Hammes Bookstore remains silent amidst confusion regarding materials contrary to Catholic teaching

The Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore currently sells copies of Pride 1-2-3, Antiracist Baby, and Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present!, among other titles in their children’s section. Elle and Cosmopolitan magazines featuring scantily-clad cover models were offered for sale on large display racks on the main floor, and a large electronic display in the entryway offers daily horoscopes and Tarot cards.

The Hammes Bookstore, near the main entrance to campus, is often filled with visiting families and prospective students. Current students and professors have expressed their concerns with the university’s decision to sell and display these materials, citing the bookstore’s prominence to visitors as a reason for concern about its representation of the university.

On the first-floor magazine racks, the bookstore stocked Elle and Cosmopolitan, which are marketed as “women’s magazines,” the latter of which describes itself as “Your source for the latest sex tips, celebrity news, dating and relationship help, beauty tutorials, fashion trends, and more.”

Originally a beauty and fashion magazine, Cosmopolitan has become increasingly sexually explicit in its contents and imagery, presenting a view of relationships and the human body in direct conflict with Catholic sexual ethics.

Elle on the other hand focuses on “hottest fashion drops”, celebrity interviews, and offering daily, weekly and monthly horoscopes. The cover of the displayed copy featured an underwear-clad model.

The Rover reached out to Arlene Montevecchio, Director of the Gender Relations Center at Notre Dame about the potential effects of such semi-pornographic magazines on college students. She did not respond to this request for comment.

Nearly a dozen students wrote to Colleen Jones, Trade Operations Manager at Hammes Bookstore, regarding this magazine display. Students presented the argument that selling such magazines went directly against Catholic sexual ethics and promoted an objectifying view of women. No student with whom the Rover spoke received a response from Jones, but the display was removed a week later.

During this spring semester, the bookstore carried copies of Anti-racist Baby and Pride 1-2-3, Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present!, which are offered for sale in the children’s section of the store. The former claims to “empower parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves.” The latter two are board books which purport to “highlight and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community” and “celebrate the achievements of LGBTQ+ people through history and from around the world,” respectively.

The Rover spoke with Maggie McDonald, Co-President of Students for Child-Oriented Policy—a student club which focuses on issues of healthy relationships and raising of families—about her response to seeing Notre Dame marketing these books.

She explained that her initial reaction was one of confusion. “Why is a Catholic bookstore promoting and profiting from books like Pride 1-2-3 which advocates a message contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church?” she questioned.

McDonald continued, “Children are not born aware of sexual attraction. Sexual attraction begins in puberty, which is several years after these books would be read. The innocence of youth is sacred, and such books thrust children into the complex world of adult issues and disagreements prematurely. There are ways to subtly and gently integrate deeper issues into discussions with children. Anti-Racist Baby and Pride 1-2-3 are anything but subtle. Beyond their dis-allegiance with the Catholic Church, I disagree with their method of educating children.

“My hope, and the hope of Students for Child-Oriented Policy, is that children will be taught to see each individual as a child of God, and not as a race or sexual orientation … I suggest that the bookstore refocus their efforts towards something more aligned with Catholic teaching and more applicable to the root issues,” MacDonald said.

Also, near the entrance to the bookstore, there is an electronic display board, which typically advertises campus events and information about the bookstore. But it has also been used to display daily horoscopes and tarot cards.

The Rover reached out to Colleen Jones about the decision to carry these materials. Jones initially agreed to an interview but later asked that the Rover speak instead with Gracie Gallagher, the Director of Strategic Initiatives for University Enterprises & Events, citing the transition of bookstore management from Follett to Barnes and Noble College making it an inconvenient time to talk.

Gallagher told the Rover via email that as Director of Strategic Initiatives for University Enterprises & Events, “the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore is part of my portfolio of responsibilities on campus.”

She continued, “I am happy to jump on a call to help answer some of your questions and provide you with the vision for the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.”

After this, however, she could not be reached to schedule an interview. After several follow-up emails, Dennis Brown, the Assistant Vice President for News and Media Relations reached out to the Rover, stating, “Your messages to Ms. Jones and Ms. Gallagher were forwarded to me. As you know, we are in the midst of a transition from Follett to Barnes & Noble College. When that is complete, we will reply to your inquiry, likely in mid-March.”

The Rover will continue to report on this issue as it unfolds and as further information is revealed.

W. Joseph DeReuil is a sophomore from St. Paul, MN studying philosophy and classics. He can be found most cloudy South Bend afternoons with a good book, sipping coffee from his very classy Irish Rover coffee mug. He can be reached at wdereuil@nd.edu

Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame