CUNY hiring process under scrutiny after arrest of ‘radical’ ex-prof Shelyn Rodriguez, who assaulted New York Post reporter


May 25, 2023 | 8:14 p.m

Taxpayer-funded CUNY is facing calls to crack down on vetting its aides after fired professor Shelyn Rodriguez — who proudly displays anti-cop tattoos — was arrested Thursday for holding a machete to a Post reporter’s neck.

Rodriguez, who has “FTP” (for “f–k the police”) written on her fingers, flashed a cheeky smile after being hit with harassing and threatening accusations and escorted from the NYPD’s 43rd Precinct in the Bronx in handcuffs.

The 45-year-old artist and community organizer — who went viral for berating pro-life students at CUNY’s Hunter College in the run-up to Tuesday’s machete saga — was immediately fired from the school.

Now some are questioning how someone like Rodriguez — a self-described “black Marxist” who helped organize “FTP” protests that led to mass arrests — got to teach at a state college in the first place.

“This is so beyond, beyond,” former CUNY Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld told The Post on Thursday, adding that “there needs to be an investigation into the hiring of this professor.”

“CUNY has become a farce,” he continued, adding, “You have revolutionaries and lunatics running the place.

“What you need is for the governor and the mayor to create a commission to clean up CUNY.”

Shelyn Rodriguez was arrested Thursday for holding a machete to the neck of a Post reporter.
Robert Miller

CUNY lacks a formal hiring process for adjunct professors, as vetting comes down to department heads — allowing someone like Rodriguez to be hired, a source familiar with the process said.

“The people who are hiring are radicals and they’re looking for radicals,” said the source, who is a department head at another CUNY campus.

Unlike full-time faculty positions, where there is extensive vetting, the source said, adjunct professors are often simply hired by a department’s personnel and budget committee.

Almost all of the department heads involved in the hiring are members of the Congress of Professional Staff, the union that represents CUNY professors and adjuncts, according to the source, who described the group as left-wing and radical.

“The union is bringing in lunatics both full-time and part-time,” the source said.

After the Rodriguez saga, New York Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Cassar called on CUNY to take a fresh look at its hiring policies.

“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that they, at the college level, professors probably need to go through a little bit of a psychological evaluation as well,” Cassar said.

“I don’t necessarily think you should screen them like you screen a police officer … it might be the first time.” [with] machete, but this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of CUNY – and to some extent SUNY – college professors being the most extreme people in classrooms.

CUNY is facing calls to reevaluate its hiring process after the arrest.
Christopher Sadowski

CUNY has 25 colleges in the five boroughs, while SUNY, the state university system, consists of 64 institutions.

Councilman Bob Holden (D-Queens), who earned a master’s degree in foreign affairs from Hunter and spent decades teaching at CUNY, said he hopes the hiring of “intolerant, radical” figures like Rodriguez is not part of a pattern.

“People need to be vetted. People should listen to both sides. And people should be tolerant,” he said.

Rodriguez “should never have been allowed to work with students,” Holden added. “I think the chancellor needs to look into his classroom observations and student evaluations to see who dropped the ball in the department and allowed this nerd into the classroom.”

Under CUNY’s current adjunct hiring policies, faculty applicants are required to sign an oath to the US Constitution during the application process.

Before she was axed Tuesday, Rodriguez had worked at Hunter College as an assistant professor of art since at least 2018, according to SeeThroughNY. Her highest annual salary was $26,684, which she earned last year, according to the site.

CUNY’s four-year colleges, like Hunter, get much of their funding from the state, while the city steps in to support the network’s community colleges.

“CUNY complies with all federal, city and state laws regarding hiring practices,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Before she was axed Tuesday, Rodriguez had worked at Hunter College as an assistant professor of art since at least 2018, according to SeeThroughNY.
Thomas E. Gaston

In a statement, PSC President James Davis said the union “has an obligation to ensure that every worker we represent receives the full protection of their contractual due process rights.

“The PSC does not condone violence, nor do we comment on ongoing member disciplinary proceedings. The union has not released or endorsed any statement regarding any incidents involving Professor Shelyn Rodriguez,” Davis said.

The growing questions about the school’s vetting process came as Rodriguez turned himself in Thursday morning over the ordeal, which was caught on camera and involved a machete.

The former professor held her head high as she was later led out of the Bronx area with her many tattoos in full display, including “FTP” written on her fingers, as well as an image of brass knuckles and the boxing term “left foot” scrawled on her left arm.

She declined to answer questions as she was escorted to an NYPD vehicle, but began grinning when The Post asked why she chose to pull the machete in the first place.

A charge of second-degree menacing in New York is a felony that can result in a year in jail, while second-degree harassment, a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 15 days.

The shocking series of events that led to Rodriguez’s arrest unfolded Tuesday when a veteran Post reporter knocked on the door of her Bronx apartment to ask her about the May 2 footage of her berating pro-life students from Hunter College.

“Get away from my door or I’ll chop you up with this machete!” yelled the maniacal art professor from behind her closed door just seconds before popping out with the blade.

After the reporter and photographer left the building, the video recorder captured Rodriguez – still armed with a machete – chasing them down the street.

Rodriguez is currently embroiled in a legal saga with the NYPD over allegations that officers mistreated her when she was arrested in the Bronx during a protest against George Floyd in June 2020. The professor also helped organize several violent ” FTP” protest in the Bronx until 2020.

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