Prof. Fausto Cuocolo was chatting with reporters Saturday night and saying he takes no special precautions against terrorists because, "it's pointless, they'll get you if they want you."

Today, Cuocolo, 47, was shot in the legs, right hip and right forearm as he was giving final examinations at the University of Genoa, where he is dean of the political science school.

Cuocolo, a prominent local Christian Democratic leader, was forced to stand up and turn his back by two young men who had coolly walked into his calssroom and shut the door while a woman accomplice stayed outside as a lookout.

Eyewitnesses said the first two shots missed the professor. The two assailants then moved closer and shot him before fleeing.

Some students screamed in fright, others took cover, but no one tried to stop or follow the terrorists. The three - who apparently did not mask their faces, although one was described as having a tangled beard and the other a mustache - disappeared into the maze of narrow 12th century streets in the port area near the university.

Within 55 minutes of the start of the attack, there was a call to the local newspaper. Il Scrolo saying: "This is the Red Brigades speaking, the Genovese Column. This morning at 9:30 we lamed Fausto Cuocolo, one of the major representatives of the Genovese Christian Democratic Party."

Friends who saw Cuocolo in the hospital said the bullets had all lodged in flesh, damaging no bones or vital organs.

Saturday night over a whiskey at his elegant seaside apartment, Cuocolo said there is always fear that the terrorists will strike but that the most rational security measures can be outfoxed.

He gave the example a few weeks ago of an engineer at a big state concern, who always had a bodyguard wait for him outside his Genoa home when he left for work or returned because the terrorists usually hit people outsides their own houses. Bu the terrorists attacked him in a crowded street as he was walking home.

On tuesday Enrico Ghio, one of Cuocolo's Christian Democratic colleagues on the elected regional council and a candidate for the European Parliament, was shot four times in the legs. Last week, a Christian Democratic city councilwoman was tied up and had glue dumped all over her hair. Both actions were claimed by the Genovese Column of the Brigades.

Cuocolo described Genoa as a conservative, stable city, despite all the publicity given to the Brigades here. Even at the university, with 35,000 students, mostly from the region, there is little or their aims, he said.

The only exception, he said, is the liberal arts school, with 4,000 students. In genoa even the sociology students and faculty, traditionally a haven for extremists in Italy, are moderates, Cuocolo said.

Immediately after todayhs shooting, Cuocolo's students poured into the halls and were joined by hundreds of others taking their finals. They called a protest strike on the spot.

The president of the university, Carmine Romanzi, said he was "overwhelmed" to think this could happen inside the university. "I was a partisan" against fascism, he said. "We fought for freedom. And now we must witness it being trampled upon."

In a statement from the hospital, Cuocolo said, "This is the price we pay for our institutions. I am serene."

A shocked friend said, "He's right that you can't really protect yourself, you know." Then the friend confided that without Cuocolo's knowledge, bodyguards had been discreetly protecting him in exposed situations.

"But not at the university. Who would have though there?" the friend sighed. CAPTION: Picture, Cuocolo, being carried into an ambulance after the attack in Genoa, refused special security against terrorists. UPI