Politics, Not Job Performance, Lost Student Her University Job

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Justin Schwarz wasn’t rehired for the spring session as a community advisor at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Housing and Residence Life (HRL) — because she had “not demonstrated a commitment to social justice growth and [its] promotion to the residents.”

Campus Reform reports that the university is supposed to rehire for this position on the basis of performance reviews. But the school seemed to only address politics and not job performance in resident director Sean Smallwood’s evaluation.

Smallwood recorded that Schwarz required “need for improvement” in three of the five areas of evaluation. These were located in the “Socially Just and Specialized Needs” section, with her “Attitude and Growth Mindset” also requiring adjustment.

“Justine has not demonstrated a commitment to social justice growth and promotion to residents. When she engaged in discussions about [Diversity and Social Justice], she often plays devil’s advocate,”  reads Smallwood’s evaluation. “It often feels as though she is doing this for the fun of it, out of enjoying the process of debate. Sean and Noelle often wonder to what extent she is truly processing the information and grappling with differing perspectives—leading to curiosity around how she is engaging her residents with these topics (if at all).”

Schwarz received absolutely no performance improvement recommendations for her crisis management, being a role model, enforcing policy, community activities and developing positive relationships with her residents.

She was praised for effectively performing her tasks, being able to “connect with her residents on a personal level” and for “creating a positive learning environment.”

But she apparently failed to adhere to the school’s diversity and social justice training manual that informs the untrained with the relevant terminology. Another training document explains the core values of a “socially just community” and that these tenets will solve issues of inequality in communities.

Weekly HRL staff meetings reiterated these assumptions, with the agenda for the fall semester frontier staff meeting focusing on left-wing websites like Everyday Feminism and internet news like BuzzFeed and The Daily Dot.

The agenda contained criticism of free speech, denunciations of Thanksgiving Day observances, a dissertation on the supposed relationship between white privilege and bike riding and positive treatment of Black Lives Matter, as well as the Women’s March on Washington — two blatantly political subjects.

Schwarz says that she engaged with Smallwood in a conversation where he insisted that, as a woman, she should feel oppressed. Schwarz also says she felt she was attacked for her political opinions which obviously did not meet with the approval of her employers.

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