GENESEO – Following student outrage at a sociology professor’s comments about transgender people, SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles said in an email to students that the College is taking student concerns very seriously.
Battles’ email is as follows:
A situation that took place in a sociology classroom earlier this week has been brought to my attention and I felt the need to communicate to you about it, particularly as it pertains to our value of inclusivity.
A professor is reported to have presented materials and made comments about which some students have expressed concern. We are taking the matter very seriously and are gathering the facts to determine if and what action is warranted.
The classroom is an environment in which students and faculty can and should discuss challenging topics and ideas, which makes it all the more important that we gather and fully review the facts in this case.
As we review this situation, let me say unequivocally that SUNY Geneseo has a steadfast and uncompromising commitment to diversity and inclusivity. We work diligently to sustain an inviting and supportive environment for people of all gender identities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, races, religions and other identities.
I use this opportunity to remind you that our Interim Chief Diversity Officer robbie routenberg is available as a resource to the campus community. I would also encourage any students who have support needs to contact Lenny Sancilio, dean of students, and Dillon Federici, coordinator of LGBTQ Programs and Services.
The Facebook profile of student Jasmine Cui posted an image of Professor David Sorbello and a slide shown to students titled ‘Female or Shemale? Can You Tell?’ and claimed that he had said ‘so this is a lesson to you all not to get too drunk or you might take the wrong one home.’
“Let Geneseo know that this is NOT acceptable. People are NOT PROPS,” posted Cui.
Students confronted Sorbello. The following day, Cui posted a screenshot, saying that it showed an email Sorbello supposedly sent to students following the confrontation.
“Effective Nov. 1st> Lecture slides will no longer be made available for taking pictures after class. In addition, there will be strict enforcement of my policy on electronic devices from here on out, UNLESS authorized by disabilities services. Zero tolerance. I apologize that at this time we are not able to integrate technology in the classroom.”
In the email, Sorbello then refers to a section of his syllabus saying that electronic devices ‘must be turned off and stowed in your backpacks or bags throughout the class session.’
Student and alumni Facebook profiles responded that the quiz is offensive.
“I know many members of the student body are outraged, angered and in disbelief that in this day and age a professor can be so unapologetically transphobic,” said Jeremy Jackson, Class of 2016.