City University of New York (CUNY)
City University of New York (CUNY) ISTOCK

The chancellor of CUNY faced harsh criticism for failing to attend a Thursday hearing in which students and professors at New York City’s public colleges spoke about being discriminated against for being Jewish.

Felix Matos Rodriguez’s refusal to appear at the hearing held by the City Council Committee on Higher Education was met with disbelief by lawmakers, students and staff, according to the New York Post.

Rodriguez had been scheduled to appear but told council members at the last minute on Wednesday evening he would not be attending the all-day hearing that heard testimony from city lawmakers, students, faculty and activists detailing mistreatment of Jewish students at CUNY’s 26 campuses around the city.

Jewish groups have long charged that CUNY has ignored complaints of discrimination and antisemitism by Jewish students and has done nothing while anti-Jewish discrimination goes unchecked.

“Last night, in a very cowardly fashion, the chancellor said he won’t appear. Instead he sent a lawyer to represent him. What a sham, what an insult to the Jewish community of New York,” Brooklyn Councilwoman Inna Vernikov told the Post.

“I’m calling on my colleague and committee chair Eric Dinowitz to cancel the hearing until [Rodriguez] shows up. If this was about any other ethnic minority, the chancellor would never stay in his cozy midtown office,” Vernikov tweeted.

“There is a pervasive culture of Antisemitism at CUNY. And the top guy in charge who gets paid $670k a year with our taxpayer dollars does not have the guts to show up. This is an insult to the entire Jewish community of New York.”

“This is a sham. There are hundreds of students and professors who have experienced antisemitism at CUNY and some of them have been waiting so long to testify about their horrific experiences of harassment, intimidation and discrimination,” she added.

The StopAntisemitism watchdog organization also slammed Rodriguez for refusing to attend the hearing.

“When CUNY's chancellor is busy doing podcasts rather than attending a hearing on antisemitism happening under his watch, we think it's pretty safe to say ‘No, CUNY does not take Jew hatred seriously,’” the group tweeted.