AMAC Exclusive – By David Lewis Schaefer
Although college campuses have in recent years become hotbeds of political intolerance and indoctrination, with faculty often taking advantage of their position to ordain “wokeness,” such intolerance does not often take the form of physical violence. But this was not the case with Shellyne Rodriguez, an adjunct, part-time art professor at Hunter College (part of the City University of New York, or CUNY) who last month destroyed an information table set up by pro-life students and later chased a reporter who questioned her about the incident down the street with a machete.
On May 2, Rodriguez confronted a group of students who were manning a pro-life exhibit on campus grounds. In a video recording of the incident, Rodriguez tells the students, “you’re not educating s—t … This f—g propaganda …. This is bulls—t. This is violent. You’re triggering my students.”
While the pro-life students remained calm and respectful, with one of them even apologizing for any “triggering” effect the exhibit was having, Rodriguez ordered them to “get the f—k out of here,” and then trashed the exhibition table (as seen on a Twitter post shared by Students for Life of America).
Rodriguez’s behavior provoked an intrepid reporter-photographer team from the New York Post to visit her Bronx apartment in order to interview her about the incident once the tape had gone public. Rodriguez responded by ordering the reporter to “Get the f—k away from my door!” and threatening the pair with a machete. Photos shared by the Post showed her holding the weapon to the reporter’s neck.
Rodriguez then pursued the Post team down the street, kicking the reporter and warning the team never to return to her block.
Since Hunter College is a public institution, funded by taxpayers, the Post team were certainly within their rights to ask Rodriguez for an explanation of her behavior. And as students at a public college, the pro-life exhibitors were legally entitled to express their opinions on campus grounds on a civic issue – just as their classmates were entitled to hear those opinions.
Rodriguez’s behavior – not the obscene shutdown of the students or the trashing of their exhibit, but the machete incident – finally led Hunter authorities to fire her.
Public colleges now being dominated by the woke mob, the labor organization of graduate and professional schools at the City University promptly issued a statement that Rodriguez had been “justified” in destroying the student display, since it contained “dangerously false propaganda” and “disinformation.” In fact, Rodriguez maintained that she was the real “victim” here, since in terminating her employment Hunter had “capitulated” to “racists, white nationalists, and misogynists” in a way that had injured her “mental health.”
As for the machete attack, it led to Rodriguez being arraigned at Bronx Criminal Court the following day on charges of menacing and harassment (the former carrying a sentence of up to a year in jail). In accordance with current New York state law, she was immediately released without having to post bail. And Rodriguez was not only unrepentant, but buoyant at the arraignment, proudly displaying the tattoo “FTP” (for “F–k the Police”) on her knuckles.
Years before this latest incident, Rodriguez had distinguished herself as a leader of “FTP” protests that led to mass arrests following the death of George Floyd. (One of the protests featured the image of a burning New York Police Department van with the words “We talking about revolution.”) She had also participated in leading a demonstration outside the home of the vice chairman of New York’s Whitney Museum because he headed a company that manufactured military and law-enforcement equipment.
It isn’t hard for individuals of questionable character and behavior like Rodriguez to obtain part-time teaching positions at schools like Hunter, since – unlike candidates for full-time, tenure-track appointments – they typically are hired on the judgment of just a department chair and a few colleagues, who in this case quite likely shared Rodriguez’s nonsensical attitudes. But as for her future, her lasting severance from Hunter is far from a sure thing, since the faculty union has pledged its determination to guarantee that she gets her full “due process” rights, and public employees, even part-timers, are notoriously hard to dismiss.
But then, the entire incident, far from ending Rodriguez’s career, may turn her into a celebrity on the academic lecture circuit, potentially earning her as much for a couple of appearances as her entire salary (under $30,000) at Hunter. Such, indeed, was the career of the Marxist revolutionary of the sixties, Angela Davis, who still commands big bucks as a guest speaker while holding a professorship at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Then there are the sixties radicals Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, leaders of the violent Weather Underground. Dohrn wound up teaching law (!) at Northwestern University, while her husband Ayers – onetime buddy and mentor of Barack Obama – became a professor of education (!!) at the University of Illinois. By a curious, if not ominous, coincidence, the New York Times published a glowing interview with Ayers about his unrepentant memoir Fugitive Son: Memoirs of an Antiwar Activist on September 11, 2001.
Finally, Chesa Boudin, the son of two Weather Underground members who was recently recalled by San Francisco voters from his position as district attorney owing to his extreme soft-on-crime policies, has just been named founding executive director of Berkeley Law School’s new Criminal Law & Justice Center. Boudin, who notably refused to prosecute “minor crimes” like open-air drug deals and robbery, says he is viewing it as “an exciting opportunity to build on his work of transforming the criminal legal system in profound ways.” (One can only imagine.) Even though taxpayers fired Boudin once, they will now be paying his salary again via California’s public university system.
As for Rodriguez, whether or not she manages to regain her position (or even wins a suit against Hunter College for wrongful dismissal), it is unlikely that she will suffer actual punishment for her unhinged and illegal actions. But the fact of her behavior does make one wonder whether un-woke students at schools like Hunter may need to fear for their physical safety.
It should also be mentioned that Rodriguez’s threatening and intolerant language, if not her violent behavior, is far from unique at CUNY. Earlier in May, the student chosen by her classmates to deliver an address at the commencement of CUNY’s law school, Fatima Mousa Mohammed, denounced the institution for “cooperat[ing] with the fascist” New York Police Department and U.S. military, as well as training Israeli soldiers to allegedly carry out “violence globally.”
She then exhorted her fellow graduates to “dismantle capitalism” along with “Zionism around the world.” While lamenting CUNY Law’s failings, the soon-to-be-lawyer explained that she had chosen to attend it as “one of the very few legal institutions created to recognize that the law is a manifestation of white supremacy that continues to oppress people in this nation and around the world,” concluding that the only acceptable remedy is “revolution.”
Although Mohammed’s remarks were criticized by CUNY officials weeks after the event (following the release of a video), along with some local elected officials, the video also shows her address being applauded by the law school dean as well as other officials on stage. That applause was hardly surprising, since the recently-appointed dean had a history of “social justice engineering” and in her previous job, as dean of Western New England College’s law school, had introduced an “Anti-Racism and Cultural Competency” requirement for all students, including such courses as “Business Law from an Antiracist Perspective.”
With such attitudes toward the law being expressed, inculcated, and applauded by CUNY’s own law faculty, who can be surprised at Shellyne Rodriguez’s misbehavior?
It is long past time for the trustees and presidents of large public universities to pay more attention to preserving a campus atmosphere that is favorable to the free exchange of student as well as faculty opinions. Signing on to the Chicago Principles (first promulgated by the University of Chicago) upholding the elements of such freedom would be a promising sign.
And is it really asking too much that even adjunct appointments be made with regard to the basic norms of civility? Even something as simple as scrapping the f-bombs might be a good place to start.
David Lewis Schaefer is a Professor of Political Science at College of the Holy Cross.
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