As the University of Colorado Student Government prepares for spring elections, the current administration will have to finish its term with a substitute diversity director.
Matthew Cucchiaro, a philosophy graduate student and CUSG’s now-former diversity director, resigned after blog posts he published on his website were brought to the attention of administration and CUSG.
Cucchiaro’s website, stupidhumanbeings.com, which he created under the pseudonym “Matthew Aames,” features pieces he said he wrote as political satire.
Cucchiaro said printed copies of two of the articles were allegedly dropped off anonymously in Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Deb Coffin’s box. Coffin then met with and shared them with the CUSG executive members.
Coffin said she could not comment on the issue.
“The decision to keep or remove CUSG employees resides solely with the executive leadership of CUSG, and it is not my policy to comment on those decisions,” she said in an email.
Cucchiaro said he then voluntarily resigned from his position.
“Once I had first gotten wind of what was going on, the year was almost over and I know that I could have a replacement,” Cuccchiaro said. “I just didn’t want to have anything from what I did brought onto the administration because it had nothing to do with my work with student government. I thought, ‘I’ll just separate myself from this.’”
CUSG’s Director of Public Relations Kristy Gustavson said she could not comment on the situation.
“Any issue related towards [sic] an individuals [sic] paid position is a personnel issue and it is not our place to comment further on any reasons one might have for resigning,” Gustavson said.
The particular articles that were taken to Coffin’s box, “Today’s Stupid Human Beings: Women” and “Today’s Stupid Human Beings: Nigerian Scammers,” were both originally posted in 2009.
Contained in the first paragraph of “Today’s Stupid Human Beings: Women” are phrases including “Guys, I don’t need to tell you this: women are not as smart as men,” and, “I’m sure there are a couple of heffers [sic] in congress or the senate who are about on par with the average male.”
Throughout the rest of the article, phrases such as “men find it cute when their girlfriends try to talk to them about current events; it’s kind of like when a toddler tries to use the grownups’ toilet,” and “It seems the battle of the sexes is being fought purely in the imaginings of women” are used.
Cucchiaro said the article was a political statement and satirical.
“The women article [sic] was more of a political statement, a social statement about kind of the jock mentality of stereotyping women, where a woman is stupider [sic] than a man,” he said.
In aiming for shock value, Cucchiaro said he was hoping to spark debate.
“It was taking the position that I disagree with and embellishing it and making it crazy and the reason you do that is because, if you write something like, ‘women shouldn’t be thought of as inferior’ no one’s going to read that,” he said. “It’s going to spark debate.”
“Today’s Stupid Human Beings: Nigerian Scammers” features an e-mail exchange between Cucchiaro and an alleged email scammer from Nigeria.
In his responses to the emailer, Cucchiaro states he is working with the poor in Guatemala and identifies himself as Chris Hansen.
The article uses phrases including, “You have completely shifted my preconceived notion (derived from Hollywood) about Africa being a land of savages who hunt foreigners with spears and sacrifice them to their pagan Gods.“ The article also includes “… the fact that Madame Cynthia is … receiving 3rd rate treatment (likely consisting of spices and voodoo magic), it may be best to put her down like an unclaimed pet.”
Cucchiaro said the email correspondence article is one he is most proud of.
“It’s probably one of my proudest works,” he said. “I’ve written a lot and published a lot. I just had a professor email me back saying how hilarious he thought it was.”
Cucchiaro said the article might be perceived as crass, but that it was his way of getting the word out about these types of electronic scams.
“There are some racy things that people are going to take offense over and I can’t help that,” he said. “We have to remember that this person is trying to scam me.”
After removing them from the site for a brief period, Cucchiaro said he’s replaced them on his site so that the CU community can read them in context and comment.
The student who left the articles for Coffin is the same student who created an anonymous email in order to send the articles to the CU community. This student spoke with the CU Independent on the condition of anonymity.
The articles were also sent to several different campus organizations, including the GLBT Resource Center, the Women’s Resource Center, and the Center for Multicultural Affairs via e-mail, the anonymous source said. The address of the email was “email@example.com.”
The anonymous source said they found the articles online while Google searching Cucchiaro’s LSAT and GMAT preparatory class course, Campus Prep.
“I just found out about the whole situation and I was appalled that our diversity director would have such blogs up,” the anonymous source said. “Whatever their purpose may be, it’s appalling that they’re up. If the purpose is purely satirical, then he’s not effectively communicating that.”
The anonymous source said they have never met Cucchiaro and in bringing these articles to the attention of administration and CUSG, their goal is not to tarnish Cucchiaro’s record.
“My intentions are not to ruin this kid’s life,” the anonymous source said. “My intentions are simply to make students less apathetic to what goes on in student government. I don’t want him to get harmed but I do want to call out unethical behavior on this campus and I want awareness.”
The anonymous source said that they are glad to have shared the information with the CU community.
“With regard to [Cucchiaro’s use of] shock value, I can see some shock value in that,” the anonymous source said. “But it’s pretty sick I think. So I’m glad that people found out about all of this.”
Isra Chaker is a 20-year-old junior architecture major and the current Co-Senator for the School of Architecture and Planning. Chaker, who is running in the spring CUSG election for student body president on the Edge ticket, said she thinks writing the blogs, even under a pseudonym, was irresponsible of Cucchiaro.
“I got the emails that everyone else did and just to see the blogs that he had wrote was really bothersome,” Chaker said. “I think it’s important to realize that these are officials, these are our student government officials. Although you’re under an alias name, the fact that you wrote those things is not acceptable.”
Chaker said she thinks that CUSG officials have an obligation to act responsibly in their personal lives, not just when fulfilling their student government duties.
“When you’re representing students, you need to be held accountable for the position that you hold,” she said. “You need to carry that around with you. It’s really important to take that sense of accountability with you from your job, to your personal life; it’s all one.”
Chaker said she hopes with the new election brings new officials free of any accountability issues.
“I know Matthew resigned, but we had a whole year [with him],” she said. “Where is the accountability? You have this position for a whole year. Where is the accountability?”
CUSG’s Assistant Diversity Director Kaylah Braun, said she worked under Matt as his assistant and will be continuing the diversity duties in his absence.
“Not everything has been shaken to the floor yet,” Braun, a 21-year-old senior political science and speech, language and hearing science major said. “I’m going to maintain my current title until a point at which I would be diversity director. But I’m going to do Matt’s job with my current title.”
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Sarah Simmons at Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org.