Colleges often invite controversial speakers to their campuses and offer professorships to controversial instructors. But one college in particular has a ‘love affair’ with ‘violent radicals,’ according to a professor in New York City.
The City University of New York has an “odd infatuation with proponents of violence,” writes Brooklyn College geology professor David Seidemann.
That ‘infatuation,’ Seidemann claims, was most recently exemplified by CUNY’s School of Public Health’s choice of Linda Sarsour as commencement speaker this past school year. Sarsour made headlines a short while ago after making crude and violent comments about anti-Islamist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
As well, Seidemann points out, a number of years ago CUNY’s John Jay College hired Susan Rosenberg as an adjunct professor. Rosenberg served 16 years in prison for possession of explosives; additionally, she “was also a suspect in the Brinks robbery, during which two policemen and a security guard were killed.”
Rosenberg served in that position for four semesters before her contract was not renewed, Seidemann writes, a decision that led to a letter of protest from the chair of the CUNY faculty senate. And a number of years ago, John Jay College held “a celebration of Susan Rosenberg.”
CUNY’s faculty senate chair was similarly sympathetic to another convicted felon, this time one of CUNY’s own. Mohamed Yousry, an adjunct lecturer at CUNY’s York College, was convicted in 2005 of providing material aid to terrorism and conspiring to deceive the government. Three days after Yousry’s 2006 sentencing on terrorism charges, the senate chair – in an apparent attempt to solicit a job for him – speculated in an email to a faculty senate chat room that Yousry might be looking for work as a teaching adjunct…
Yousry isn’t the only teacher at CUNY to engage in extreme behavior: three of the six people charged in the 2014 beating of policemen on the Brooklyn Bridge (Eric Linsker, Cindy Gorn, and Jarrod Shanahan) were teachers at CUNY. Of course, assaulting police officers pales in comparison to the crimes of Rosenberg and Yousry, but that act is consistent with the mindset that justifies violence in the service of political causes.
The actions of CUNY’s faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) are particularly telling because they presumably reflect the sentiments of substantial numbers of faculty. (The leaders of the union, which represents roughly 19,000 faculty and staff, have repeatedly been re-elected since 2000.)
“That CUNY faculty lean left is hardly surprising,” Seidemann notes, “that’s standard in the academic world.
“Leaning towards the violent left is, however, noteworthy.”