Driven to discover



Justine Schwarz

As part of the University of Minnesota’s “Driven to Discover” advertising campaign, many of the values of the university are celebrated and displayed with pride. However, one goal seems to be grounded on the basis of creating a liberal, politically correct group of students.

The “Driven to Discover” ad campaign is a four-part series explaining some of the amazing things faculty at the university are working on. Ending addiction, closing the opportunity gap, abolishing hunger, and protecting human rights are the main goals.

However, the advertisement specifically for the “Driven to Protect Human Rights” portion, which has been viewed over 7,000 times on YouTube, seems to have an interesting connotation when considering the current university climate.

The video shares the goals of many University faculty concerning human rights. Professor Barbara Frey is “driven to protect human rights.” Research Fellow Bridget Marchesi is “driven to hold governments accountable for past abuses.” Research Fellow Kassira Absar is “driven to strengthen human rights organizations around the world.” However, the last woman, Alejandra Diaz, is “driven to train activists to develop new policies for social change.”

Diaz’s statement raises some interesting questions about the purpose of the video. What does training activists look like on campus? What type of social change is the right type at the U of M? In the case of Alejandra Diaz, this training is done through the Roy Wilkins Community Fellows Program.

Diaz is a Research Assistant who works with Professor Samuel Myers on the Roy Wilkins Community Fellows Program. Dr. Myers is the director of the Roy Wilkins Center for Social Justice and Human Relations at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The program they both work on is “an intensive one-week boot camp” where “Dr. Myers assists the fellows in developing skills to help the conduct high-quality, objective policy analysis- while keeping race and ethnicity at the center of the conversation.”

Essentially, the program is a retreat that helps leaders discover new ways to combat racism and discrimination through public policy. While this can be a very worthwhile goal, a university advertisement like this means something very different when liberalism amongst professors is a commonality.

Professors campus wide gave students the day off after President Donald Trump’s election. They’ve encouraged students to protest instead of coming to class. Some have even supported students who chose to walk out of class in honor of President Trump’s inauguration.

The inclusion of this goal in the advertisement video not only shows clear support, but gives the message that “train[ing] activists to develop new policies for social change” is something that should be encouraged and those who participate in the training should be praised.

The video features an all-female cast despite the fact that there are three other men involved in the project who are equally involved. It gives off the impression that women are more involved in research at the U than men. This advertisement creates a false reality in order to seem more politically correct. It appears to have been created with the goal of attracting a very specific audience to the university.

This creation of this advertisement was driven by political correctness. While trying to create an atmosphere of protecting human rights, the university has created an advertisement that supports only one political perspective.

The sentiment of protecting human rights means nothing if only some peoples’ rights are protected and only the “right” ideas are celebrated by the university.