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/ August 19, 2014
This Is The Man Behind NYU Secrets

The founder and administrator of NYU Secrets is senior Aristotelis “Aristo” Orginos. A frequent Redditor, Orginos also participates in the Men’s Rights movement.

As NYU Secrets administrator, Orginos facilitates a massive audience of approximately 30,000 readers and contributors. NYU Secrets is a place for comfort and outcry; unity and division. A community.

Yesterday Orginos agreed to write a statement for NYU Local detailing, in his own words, how his self-professed bias might spill over into the management of NYU Secrets. He quit the project several hours later with the understanding that I would resume writing this article using the screenshots, sources and quotes I’d already assembled.

Outside his duties as administrator, Orignos posts in the Reddit group r/mensrights. The men’s rights movement argues that men are oppressed and disadvantaged by women, a view that lends itself to bitter misogyny in some circles and has led the Southern Poverty Law Center to describe the movement as a hate group.

Orginos does not appear to write hate.

He has, however, used Reddit to lash out at NYU Secrets users, particularly women. On multiple occasions, Orginos posted links to secrets on Reddit. There, he accused NYU Secrets commenters of being “SJWs” (social justice warriors) after they discussed women’s safety issues such as reported rape on campus, and the link between the men’s rights movement and May’s UCSB killings.

“‘The UCSB shooting was because of patriarchy and the Men’s Rights Movement,’ says SJW on university Secrets page.”

“SJWs go apeshit on University secrets page about student accused of rape; administrator under attack for ‘gaslighting’ by updating with relevant facts.”


Orginos wrote other posts, none egregious, but many troubling. In one he argues that many rape accusations are false. In another he dismisses a gender-wage gap. In others he mocks less-privileged demographics and rejects a group of homeless persons.

His comments are difficult to reconcile with NYU Secrets’ themes of community and acceptance. If a man makes great contributions to a community, is he justified in disparaging members of that community on a public forum? I decided to discuss the issue with him for an article that was planned to run later this year.

I had previously learned his identity through multiple independent sources and we had communicated earlier in the year about his maintenance of NYU Secrets. Our conversation ended amicably at the time. In the time since our conversation, I wrote the draft of an article examining how the views espoused in Orginos’ r/mensrights posts might affect the secrets that are chosen for publication.

On August 17 I messaged Orginos asking for his input. I wanted to refocus the story, this time taking his perspective into account. Within an hour he deleted his Reddit and posted a message to his followers claiming that NYU Local planned to write “untrue things about [him]”. He threatened to reveal my identity if I wrote the article. (My byline can be found at the top of this page.) I received some messages from messages from strangers. A few tacit threats to my well-being. Nothing awful.

The next morning Orginos responded. He admitted that I had been correct about his identity and his Reddit history. He redacted his claims that NYU Local planned to publish “untrue” and “disingenuous” material, admitting that he “had read all of zero words written” about him before making his claims.

I asked Orginos for his side of the story and he agreed to discuss his contributions to r/mensrights. Later I offered to let him write the entire story under his own byline in the interest of fairness. He accepted, and later declined.

Only Orginos can speak explicitly to the ways his views color NYU Secrets. “I know that there’s bias attached to this page,” he wrote in a Facebook message. When agreeing to write his story, he said he would address NYU Secrets’ perceived biases against women and people of color. Specifically Orginos said he would address the bias against the women he mocked in Reddit posts about the UCSB shooting.

Orginos cannot reasonably post every submitted secret. “I’d say ~10-20% of secrets get posted on any given day,” he writes in his “Frequently Asked Questions” section. He decides what gets posted, what stays in the inbox; whose voice is heard, and whose is not.
In response to a mass-shooting by a Men’s Rights Activist on the UC Santa Barbara campus in May, Twitter users coined the hashtag #YesAllWomen. A take-off on the “not all men” meme, the hashtag served as a forum for discussion of the gender-based violence facing every woman. Mainstream television and countless publications ran stories on #YesAllWomen. On Reddit, Orginos was critical of a “teacher forcing his SJW agenda on us with #YesAllWomen tweets.”
But despite NYU being a mostly female university with an outspoken feminist community, little evidence of any conversation on women’s rights was apparent in NYU Secrets. Orginos approved nine posts that explicitly discussed the shooting. Only one addressed the question of misogyny’s role in the shooting, and Orginos went on to mock this secret on Reddit. These numbers do not reflect the NYU I know.
One posted secret, which demanded an end to the #YesAllWomen tag, had 96 likes. The top comment (“nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope”) had 217 likes. These numbers reflect the NYU I know.
Diversity is among NYU’s greatest strengths. Yet complaints of marginalization are hardly isolated incidents in NYU Secrets’ comments section. Yesterday the page unveiled a new cover photo: a series of gossiping students against a purple background. Commenters quickly noted that, despite white students comprising only 38.5% of NYU’s population, all the characters in the image appear to be white.
I do not know which secrets Orignos receives, which he approves, or why. “I’m not a bigot,” he told me in a Facebook message. “I don’t think that a few quotes found on Reddit are any indication of who I am as a person.”
Perhaps Orginos does post secrets neutrally, a perfect representation of the stories he is told. Regardless, NYU Secrets is a stronghold of community for many students. For some, it’s provided solace, counsel and immeasurable help for the hurting.
But the fundamental problem with a college secrets page remains the same: in filtering the voices of a diverse student population through a single anonymous administrator, the results are necessarily limited by what that anonymous administrator (in this case, a white man) chooses to publish. We’re drawn in by the illusion of vox populi, the voice of the people, when in fact what we see is “10-20%” of that voice, as curated by one person with their own biases — intentional or not.
Yes, NYU Secrets can be a powerful tool for sharing your voice. But remember who allows you to share it.
[Image by Demi Chen, via]