Part of the answer lies in ye olde erotic attraction to radically chic violence that Leonard Bernstein made famous in that same city in the ‘seventies. Shellyne Rodriguez’s art, she tells an interviewer, “highlight[s] the audaciousness of the Biker Boys who take the streets undeterred by NYPD’s futile crackdown.” Makes elements of brainy artsy NY go pitapat.
This sort of thing also exists on some sort of urban mischief continuum with the non-revolutionary, white collar crime (undeterred by the SEC’s futile crackdown) that has always found representation on the boards of trustees of the sorts of schools that think Shellyne Rodriguez is cool. Recall the many high-level lawless money men/university trustees we’ve featured over decades on this blog, starting with Yeshiva University’s dynamic duo, Bernard Madoff and Ezra Merkin. At the very top of this mafia today are of course Trump/Giuliani (who hold far grander positions than mere trustee) and a whole world of superrich rapacious give-a-shit NY bad boys… UD‘s just saying that when a significant high-profile portion of the local culture is composed of high-risk-loving financial criminals (see Steven Cohen, Brown University etc. etc.) quite a few of them holding powerful positions on university boards of trustees, we shouldn’t be too surprised that this sort of world has room for other sorts of sociopaths. The school that hired Rodriguez features convicted insider trader and trustee Leon Cooperman.
These white/nonwhite criminal twains, trustee and professor, meet with a mutual thrill, a tacit sense of recognition, at a campus cocktail party, say, and if Rodriguez hadn’t attacked a man with a machete the other day, Cooperman would probably eventually have signed off on the tenure of Hunter’s own Jessica Krug. (‘Perhaps one of the most disgusting things [Krug] publicly did was to attempt to justify the brutal murder of 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who died in a machete attack at the hands of gang members in a case of mistaken identity, by claiming that had he lived he would have ended up being a cop.‘) High-flying scofflaw cultures tend to have no trouble with nasty pieces of work like Rodriguez. Self-aggrandizing nihilist subversive meets self-aggrandizing nihilist subversive.
Yes, yes, post-machete, post-other forms of non white collar violence, Hunter has dropped Rodriguez like a hot potato.
Hunter happily goes on loving itself some bad boy Leon Cooperman, but then he’s not a poor artist. He’s a rich insider trader. He gets to keep his trusteeship.
So the question of how Hunter College found itself holding on to Rodriguez in the first place has two answers: Ever-popular radical violence, and the allied and fully mainstreamed “audaciousness” of NY white collar criminality.