By Georgia Valdes and Kristy Ramirez
Screenshots from a Discord server attributed to a statewide California College Republicans (CCR) chat exposed misogynistic, racist, antisemitic comments and threats of violence from various CCR members, including members from Cal Poly Pomona’s chapter.
A fallout within California’s collegiate Republican Party due to differing opinions caused CCR chapters to de-charter and form a new organization in 2019, the California Federation of College Republicans (CFCR). The split came after CCR published a 10-page platform that attacked university funding of birth control and abortion, the legitimizing of transgender people, and institutional support of Mexican and Muslim student organizations. The extremist platform claimed that members of the LGBT+ community were “murderous and degenerate.”
This bled into CPP’s own College Republicans and in Spring 2020, Aaron Santana Ruiz, president of CPP’s College Republicans switched the campus’ charter from the CFCR to CCR.
Instagram user, “abusiveccr,” who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, reached out to The Poly Post on Feb. 4 with screenshots of messages including two accounts alleged to belong to Santana-Ruiz and fourth-year chemical engineering student, Baron Boghosian.
Many of the user “Boghosian’s” posts include selfies of Baron Boghosian.
The same account, under a revised name “Big Gorilla”, also posted a video with the accompanying comment, “watch this you Jews” to the Discord server.
The video shows Baron Boghosian and others driving around during Halloween 2020, including on the empty CPP campus, shouting statements supportive of former President Donald Trump and ending with the group eating pizza.
On Nov. 6, 2020, the same account, posted numerous comments inciting violence.
According to the CPP Republicans code of conduct, “Grounds for removal and/or suspension of an organization member(s) are appropriate if and only if student behavior is not consistent with the California Polytechnic University of Pomona student conduct and discipline code.”
When asked why more reports had not been made, user “disenchantedccrmember” said, “I don’t think anything through CCR would happen just because most of these guys are in their minds, at least, all on the same side. They all share similar beliefs. They don’t like Jews. They don’t like people of color. They think women need to just be at home in the kitchen, so I think if any sort of action was to come, it would come through the schools. Probably through a mission of conduct at the very least…People who have brought up concerns have either been kicked out or they’re blacklisted, and they basically cannot climb up the ladders.”
User “abusiveccr” responded similarly.
“I do want to have a career in politics, and they wouldn’t like this … a lot of the people have connections with all the offices so that could spread.”
Instagram user “_alxlcastilo” commented under every photo “abusiveccr” posted.
Alex Castillo, CPP student and alleged user of “_alxlcastilo”, did not respond to requests for comment.
CCR member, Stephen Miller, had multiple screenshots leaked with his name attached. Because of this, he reached out to user “abusiveccr”.
According to Miller, he was invited to join CCR by Loyola CCR president and CCR state chair, William Donahue.
Miller said that many of the screenshots are old and, at his request, the individuals were “purged from the chat” by William Donahue. He added that even though the messages were his, the photos of the chats are “taken out of context.”
“I know that a lot of things were recently deleted on our discord because a lot of people were scared that their comments were getting leaked out,” Miller said. “People started talking about it, and then other people started running to delete certain messages that they were afraid could be construed the wrong way. Some of them, I wouldn’t blame them. They had no context and they were 100% wrong.”
According to Miller, CCR holds individuals accountable and that a decision to remove someone from the Discord server depends “on the severity of the comments they made.”
“We try to be nonconfrontational and not hostile about it,” Miller said. “Often times you can tell when someone is joking about something. They wouldn’t joke about something that was serious, obviously.”
According to “abusiveccr”, on Nov. 10, the user “Boghosian” was removed from the server after disrespectful comments toward Arielle Spotswood, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and current co-chair of CCR.
Spotswood did not respond to The Poly Post request for comment.
When asked for comment, Boghosian said he has “no connection with CCR at all,” and claimed to vote for the Democratic Party. He added that he never had a Discord account and the profile depicting his name, along with the chats, are “completely false and fraudulent.”
Additionally, sources say the account named “Chancellor Santana”, allegedly that of Santana Ruiz, frequently posted in Discord endorsing Nick Fuentes, a 22-year-old far-right podcaster known for pushing white nationalist and anti-Semitic views onto younger listeners. Followers of Fuentes and Patrick Casey, the leader of the United States neo-Nazi group American Identity Movement, are called “Groypers.”
In January 2019, Fuentes compared the Holocaust to a “cookie baking operation.” According to Instagram user “disenchantedccrmember”, the icon next to Santana’s name is in reference to these statements. When reprimanded for the action, Santana Ruiz changed the image to a pizza.
User “disenchatedccrmember” added that they felt the need to create the whistleblower account to shed light on the controversy.
“We’ve reported them to even their advisor. We’ve reported to Michael Donahue … who is their advisor at Cal Poly Pomona and he said nothing, he’s done nothing,” said “disenchantedccrmember.”
Initially, Michael Donahue agreed to meet with The Poly Post, but on Feb. 10 rescinded the interview in an emailed statement.
“Due to your inquiry, I have investigated this matter with the concerned Cal Poly students and state organization. I have spoken with the Cal Poly Pomona College Republicans President, Aaron, and Baron, (who is in my senior design class at Cal Poly). As it stands, both Baron and Aaron have categorically denied these allegations. Furthermore, Baron is not a member of CPP College Republicans, nor is he a member of CCR,” Donahue stated, “I have found no evidence to support the claims that you have purported. As you know, anyone can change their name and picture on Discord. Anyone can create a new account or server with any name associated to it. Due to this design, as I understand it, there is no way to determine the identity of the person(s) who authored these posts.”
In a Feb. 8 emailed statement to the Poly Post, Santana Ruiz wrote, “While I do have an Instagram, I do not have a Discord. When I looked into these supposed chats that were ‘leaked’ it appears that they come from some social media application called Discord. I have never used Discord and the account is obviously fraudulent. The images registered to the account are not me and it’s frustrating that someone would use my name and an image of a cookie to slander me. (I’m not sure if that’s an attack on me for being mixed race).”
According to Kyle Shulz, former president of CPP Republicans, during the end of his term and under the administration of Santana Ruiz, a mass email subject, “College Republicans at Cal Poly Pomona: Hangout Meeting (Fri. 1/29/21 @ 6-9PM)” was sent to all members with links to both a private CPP Republicans Discord as well as the CCR Discord.
The CPP Republican Bylaws’ article H states that the president, “Shall be the official representative of this organization at all club involved events and activities.” The bylaws have since been removed from CPP Republican’s MyBar, but can be found here.
The server violates Discord community guidelines. The comments may also violate the student code of conduct policy at CPP under item 7, “Conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, or sexual misconduct.”
In an emailed statement to The Poly Post on Feb. 9, CCR’s communication team wrote, “On behalf of the organization and alleged affected members, we can unequivocally say that these alleged Discord leaks are either doctored, edited, or manipulated. No records of these conversations or members exist, and there is no evidence they belong to CCR or any chapter. The alleged names/nicknames are not even in our Discord, and there is no evidence they ever existed. This is simply the nature of Discord.”
Before Feb. 9, the Discord’s link could be found publicly on the CCR web page masthead and included the lobby of members active within the attached server.
The link was pulled off its website on Feb. 8 for a short period of time, and then again permanently by the morning of Feb. 9.
Beginning as early as Feb. 5, the Discord server was purged of chats by moderators, until on Feb. 7 when the server was completely wiped clean. Members within the server were not informed and questioned the removed messages and chatrooms. While it is unclear who is the official moderator, both William Donahue and Dylan Martin, communications director, responded to their complaints.
The CCR Discord server contained student members from universities across all of California and there is no record of action to regulate, prevent or discipline comments that could escalate to threats of violence like user “Boghosian’s” had.
Shortly after Santana Ruiz’s email to The Poly Post, the account “Chancellor Santana” changed its name to “Mad World Mad World” and left the CCR Discord server and used the same meme that the account claimed to use when its chapter departed from the CFCR charter.
New University, University of California, Irvine’s campus newspaper reported on similar allegations on Jan. 12.
Additionally, this is not the first time CPP Republicans have been accused of hate speech and discrimination. In fall 2020, popular Instagram account CPP Confessions, an account where the CPP community can anonymously submit community news, reposted several controversial CPP Republican posts for its followers to see.
“This chat is an echo chamber for these people to have these vile, sick beliefs and they hype each other up,” “disenchantedccrmember” added. “One of my biggest concerns is that if they hype each other up enough that they will actually go out and commit acts of violence.”
As of this report, both “disenchatedccrmember” and “abusiveccr” accounts have been terminated. “I plan to continue until the end of the Unity election,” disenchatedccrmember said.
This unity election between CCR and CFCR was dated for Feb. 20, but the results have not been announced nor any news on the election been disclosed. More can be found at https://www.americafirstcr.com. William Donahue is running for chairman.
User “abusiveccr” cited that they would continue the account “as long as it takes… for all of this to hopefully end soon.”
Additional screen grabs with corresponding documents can be found here.
If students are facing harassment, they can reach out to the Office of Equity and Compliance. For reports on threats of violence contact the University Police Department. If students need to report a breach of student conduct, the Office of Student Conduct and Integrity can be found at https://www.cpp.edu/studentconduct/staff.shtml.
Edit 4/6, 7 p.m.: The names of individuals within the screenshots that The Poly Post did not reach out to have been redacted for privacy.
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