A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student has apologized for falsely claiming to be a person of color and resigned last week as teaching assistant and co-president of their school’s worker’s union chapter.
“I take full responsibility for spreading these lies and am deeply sorry,” CV Vitolo-Haddad said, according to the New York Post.
CV Vitolo-Haddad, who uses the non-binary pronounces "they" and "them," apologized in two posts featured on the platform Medium and announced they would step down in their role as co-president of the school’s chapter of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), CNN reported.
“When asked if I identify as Black, my answer should have always been ‘No,” Vitolo-Haddad wrote Sept. 8 in the second Medium post, the New York Post reported.
The apologies came after an anonymous post on Medium on Sept. 4 that accused Vitolo-Haddad of misleading people about their racial and ethnic identity.
The unknown writer said what caught their attention was the parallels between Vitolo-Haddad’s story to Jessica A.Krug, the George Washington University professor and historian, who admitted that she lied about being Black, sending shock waves through the academic community less than two weeks ago.
“I have long suspected, CV Vitolo, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, of engaging in the same kind of race-shifting and copious lying that now has people enraged with Krug (and which distracts from the important work and struggles of actual Black thinkers, both in and outside of the academy). I share this information with the hope that it might prevent CV from causing the same harm and violence Krug enacted on people who trusted her," the anonymous post read.
Vitolo-Haddad wrote in one apology posted Sept. 6 on Medium that they let people make assumptions when they should have corrected them.
“I have let guesses about my ancestry become answers I wanted but couldn’t prove,” Vitolo-Haddad wrote.
In a second post that was edited on Sept. 11, Vitolo-Haddad wrote that they were of southern Italian and Sicilian heritage.
”It was my choice and error to identify any differently," Vitolo-Haddad wrote. They also also apologized for "taking lies about Cuban roots at face value,” CNN reported.
The news of Vitolo-Haddad, whose LinkedIn profile shows they received a bachelor's degree from the University of Central Florida and a master's degree in communications from Wake Forest University, sparked some outrage and disapproval by its peers.
John Lucas, the university's assistant vice chancellor of university communications, told CNN: "UW-Madison expects that people represent themselves authentically and accurately in all aspects of their academic work."
“We condemn CV Vitolo-Haddad's appropriation of Black and Brown identities in no uncertain terms," TAA Madison said in a statement.
Vitolo-Haddad, who was offered a conditional tenure-track position at California State University, Fresno, was to begin teaching during the 2021 fall semester. A university spokeswoman told CNN that Vitolo-Haddad will no longer be a faculty member.