A New York professor who threatened a reporter with a machete last year has been fired from her latest teaching gig at Cooper Union private college after she made anti-Semitic comments online.
Shellyne Rodriguez was caught on camera in May last year holding a machete to a New York Post reporter’s neck. She was subsequently fired from her teaching post at New York City’s Hunter College, and sentenced to 13 months of behavioral therapy for menacing.
Ms. Rodriguez, 47, wrote an e-mail to students on Jan. 23, which was circulated on Instagram the following day.
“Cooper Union has fired me because of a social media post I made about ‘Zionists’ … effective immediately,” Ms. Rodriguez wrote. “This is fascism. Ya’ll are learning about it in real time. Stay strong, [stay] brave, stay defiant, don’t bite your tongue, and drink plenty of water! Pa-lante!”
A spokesperson for the college declined to offer any comment about the issue, according to the New York Post, as it related to personnel matters. However, Ms. Rodriguez is no longer listed as an adjunct on Cooper Union’s faculty webpage.
While the exact reasons for Ms. Rodriguez’s firing currently remain undisclosed, it could be related in part to her participation in a CUNY for Palestine virtual panel last month, where she called for the boycott of Jewish landlords, as well as of landlords and business people who support Israel. According to the Post, her contribution included multiple anti-Semitic remarks.
Former Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. was also targeted by Ms. Rodriguez, who referred to him on her personal Instagram account as a “roach” and a “Zionist lapdog,” the Post reported.
Ms. Rodriguez’s behavior was also noted by others, including Jeffrey Lax, a CUNY law professor and co-founder of Students and Faculty for Equality at CUNY, which advocates for Jewish students on campus.
“Jewish students at Cooper Union are very relieved that they fired her. Her comments were really despicable,” said Mr. Lax, adding that the university made a grave mistake in hiring her given her threatening behavior toward the reporter last year.
“Normally, I would say I commend the university for taking action against this professor but in this case, how can I possibly say that? She did something far worse before they hired her. I mean, she held a knife to a reporter’s neck,” he told the New York Post. “They’re not to be commended, they should be ashamed of themselves.”
Ms. Rodriguez was an adjunct professor at Hunter College at the time of the incident, which was caught on camera. Before threatening the reporter, Ms. Rodriguez had gone on an expletive-laden rant at students who had set up a pro-life table to distribute information materials, claiming they were “triggering” other students.
The video was shared online by Students for Life of America.
Afterwards, the Post’s reporter asked her for comment at her apartment building. Ms. Rodriguez was then caught on camera again, this time with a large machete in her hand, which she held close to the reporter’s neck.
“Get the [expletive] away from my door, or I’m gonna chop you up with this machete!” she can be heard saying during the incident, according to the Post. She subsequently chased another Post employee down the street with machete in hand.
She was fired from Hunter just hours later, and was subsequently dismissed from the School of Visual Arts in Chelsea, where she worked part-time.
At her trial, she pleaded guilty to harassment and menacing in connection to the attack, which facilitated the withdrawal of her misdemeanor plea upon successful completion of her therapy program.
Ms. Rodriguez is no stranger to making headlines. In June of 2020, she played an instrumental role in organizing anti-police demonstrations in New York after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Cooper Union college has experienced its fair share of anti-Semitic sentiment in recent months. In October, a group of Jewish students barricaded themselves into the university’s library, while pro-Palestinian protesters banged on the windows.