The blending of two University of Colorado Student Government positions has spurred criticism that the administration is minimizing campus diversity efforts.
Last week, CUSG unanimously approved the hiring of philosophy and psychology senior Matthew Cucchiaro as the director of academics and the director of diversity, positions that were previously the work of two people.
Former Director of Diversity Alexis Smith said the diversity position is a full-time responsibility and cannot receive the attention it deserves if it is shared with another directorial job.
Smith, who held the diversity position for two years, said she rarely worked less than 30 hours a week.
“As diversity director, you have to understand issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, heterosexism and so many other concepts,” Smith said. “It’s an intense process that takes someone with real dedication to social justice. It’s a full-time job.”
But CUSG representatives maintain that diversity is a priority for their administration along with academics and sustainability.
“This is not a step in the wrong direction,” Cucchiaro said. “We are still addressing the needs of the diverse community, we’re just focusing more on the academic aspects instead of the community aspects of diversity.”
Cucchiaro said the narrower focus will lead to the creation of more academic programs for low-income and underprivileged students like a low-cost LSAT prep program implemented by Cucchiaro and others in the spring.
Thomas Baxter, CU senior and member of the Latino Student Alliance and the Black Student Alliance said diversity on campus is already “a joke” and that this move proves that CUSG is not interested in improving diversity.
“Since (Cucchiaro) was the academic director last year, he’s obviously more focused on that aspect of the job and not in improving diversity,” Baxter said. “I don’t see how he can take on two huge responsibilities like this and not expect to fall short of his duties.”
CUSG vice president of external affairs Allison Foley, who helped hire Cucchiaro, supports his qualifications and ability to handle the dual position. Foley said because of the new responsibilities of the position, the administration would be open to change if it seemed Cucchiaro could not handle both jobs.
The new position pays $11.25 an hour with approximately 20 hours of work per week.
Despite the fact that Cucchiaro was the only applicant for the position, he says he is more than qualified for both positions and believes he can handle the heavy workload.
“I volunteer on the weekends at the Community Justice Center in Boulder working with juvenile inmates and helped develop the low-cost LSAT prep course,” Cucchiaro said.
Baxter said it’s not Cucchiaro’s skills that make him under-qualified for the position.
“The diversity director should be voicing the voice of the diverse community at CU but he can’t do that if he’s not part of that community,” Baxter said. “It’s going to be that much harder for him to communicate our messages to CUSG and the campus.”
When asked if he was a member of any student groups that would be considered diverse, Cucchiaro responded: “if you have a narrow view of what diversity is, then I’m not. But that doesn’t keep me from doing my job as well as anyone else.”