College concludes investigation of sociology professor, questions persist about LGBTQ+ policies

The college finished its investigation of adjunct professor of sociology David Sorbello, which followed a presentation he made in October. The presentation caused concern due to its perceived transphobia. 

The college cannot divulge details of the investigation process or the conclusions made by the investigation, according to Interim Chief Diversity Officer robbie routenberg. Despite the decision remaining confidential, Sorbello was not listed as teaching any classes for the spring 2018 semester and is no longer listed on the college directory.

“One of the rules of the [SUNY Internal Discrimination Complaint Procedure] is that it’s strictly confidential and in order to be compliant with the policy, there are certain things we can’t share,” routenberg said. “Adjuncts are hired to teach and they are not hired to complete other responsibilities other than the course load … You can [also] search the directory to find out whether someone is a student or an employee at the college.” 

Psychology major senior Felix Laneri felt that the college’s overall response to this incident had flaws. 

“From what I’ve heard from people within the trans community, there was a lot of frustration with President [Denise] Battles’ emails,” Laneri said. “There could have been more transparency, more specific language. People noticed that gender identity didn’t come into the email until the very end and it was never specifically said that there was a transphobic or discriminatory remark.” 

Beyond the state of Sorbello’s employment, student activists also made a list of expectations calling on the administration to more adequately serve the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. The college has made progress on some of the initiatives, including codifying a preferred name policy and increasing access to gender-neutral bathrooms, according to routenberg. The list of expectations also had components that the administration chose not to pursue, routenberg said. 

“The college has designed a systematic approach to the [expectations],” routenberg said. “Over the next couple weeks, next couple months, people will start to see some of those things implemented. Not everything on the list is possible in the short term, but a lot of it is.” 

The college’s response to Sorbello’s presentation compared with its response to the outlined expectations has varied, according to Laneri.

“There were different responses from different people in the administration,” Laneri said. “I think there were some people that were very active in responding and I think there were others who could have done more but didn’t … As far as the list goes, I don’t think we’ve gotten a lot of response overall.”