April 6, 2000
Allegations at CSUN
Jacquelyn Barnette received the news during a recent meeting with Cal State Northridge officials: A CSUN administrative review had concluded that she was not fired from her student health center job because of anti-Semitism or retaliation.
Earlier this year, the medical records supervisor, who is African-American and Jewish, had charged that she was let go after confronting the center's assistant director for administration, Jan Loritz, for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks. Aaron Levinson, director of the Valley office of the Anti-Defamation League, subsequently spoke to half a dozen present and past center employees who asserted they had overheard Loritz making such remarks.
However, after interviewing more than 40 present and past center employees, a CSUN administrator found that none alleged witnessing anti-Semitic actions on the part of Loritz. There had been not even a single report of an anti-Semitic action by Loritz during her 16 years at the center, the report concluded. Nor was there any distinguishable difference in Loritz's written performance evaluations of employees who were Jewish and non-Jewish. Loritz, moreover, did not participate in the decision to terminate Barnette; other supervisors made that decision, the administrator concluded.
Barnette's final performance evaluation alleges that she incurred excessive tardies and absences, a charge Barnette denies.
The university offered the medical records supervisor two months of retroactive pay, which would roughly cover the period of the administrative review, per university practice, as well as another job on campus, "though that has nothing to do with the allegations she made or the university's response to them," says CSUN spokesperson John Chandler. Rather, CSUN is offering Barnette another job because of "the conclusion that there were procedural irregularities with the personnel process by which she was let go," Chandler said. &'009;
Barnette, for her part, told the Daily News that administrative review was a "whitewash" of Loritz. In an interview with the Journal, she said she has retained an attorney and intends to sue the university for breach of contract. She has also rejected the job transfer.
While Levinson says he is pleased with the thoroughness of CSUN's review, he is "still concerned there may be a problem at the center, because we have corroborated stories of anti-Semitism."
In a written statement, CSUN Interim President Dr. Louanne Kennedy indicated that the university "is still reviewing the allegation that anti-Semitic comments were made." She has also appointed a four-person committee to review broader operational and administrative issues at the center.
"We have an extremely diverse student body, including a sizable Jewish population, so whenever there are subjects raised that could be a threat to our environment we take them very seriously," Chandler said.