The SUNY Broome administration says they are going to be reviewing controversial Facebook posts made by Assistant Professor and Chairman of the Computer Science Department Julie L. Cooley for potential violations of SUNY Broome policy. The posts appear to direct anger at the SUNY Broome administration, and allude to non-acceptance of student’s gender or nationality. When asked about the posts in an email Vice President for Academic Affairs Penny A. Haynes said “The College prohibits discrimination of all forms. The posts will be reviewed to determine if violations of college policy have occurred.”
The posts in question were posted to the Facebook page of Julie Cooley on the night of March 18th and deleted by the next morning. The original posts reads; “Now what I am going do? Some how I will be okay. It was huge decision.” To which a Facebook friend responded “You ok?” To which Cooley responded “just retiring when I don’t want to.”, with two subsequent posts reading; “I did a bad job of investing my money for last four years. MY INVESTMENTS in SUNY Broome is done. I HAVE classes and students and will take them and learning. I WILL NOT take any longer the abuse administration puts on me… too accept their gender or where the hell they are from..including Pakistan ..I Teach.” and “I TEACH…LEARN..just like the Broome County student.”
In an interview with the Fulcrum, Cooley said her reason for making the posts was that “It’s been a very stressful atmosphere on campus and I had a bad day, I wasn’t speaking about anybody in particular, it was just a bad day. I had gotten some news and just felt frustrated.” When asked what she meant by “stressful environment” she said “Just because of the changes that had to be done for COVID-19 and everything. For every employee including students I think there’s a stress that didn’t exist just a couple years ago.” Cooley was adamant that the posts were made out of frustration, saying; “You’re talking about a post that was posted by somebody that was upset, obviously had a bad day.” and insisted that “It was a conversation I was having with friends and family.” As for the wording of the posts, Cooley said “I was upset and I may not have had my glasses on either, which is not uncommon for me to do.”
When asked what abuse she believes had been put on her by the administration, Cooley said she “Can’t get into any specifics between administration and faculty.” But clarified that “There was nothing specific at the moment when I made those posts, other than me having a bad day and talking with friends and family.” and mentioned “That day I felt like maybe I should retire early because I was frustrated. Obviously I chose not to do so.” She also clarified that she had been frustrated regarding circumstances involving COVID-19, such as “Faculty losing control of the students that are learning. It’s not any one person doing it. Like I said a lot of it has to do with COVID, and the change to the classes on campus, off campus.” But then said “We’ve been doing a really really good job of getting through the struggles and the changes that we’ve had to do. I think we’ve done an excellent job.” She refused to go into extra detail, saying “There’s things that administration aren’t gonna be able to say to you, and there’s things I can’t. Okay? That you can’t understand. Because we can’t share… Faculty and administration we work with each other all the time. Those things are not public.”
When asked what she meant by “accept their gender or where the hell they are from… including Pakistan.” Cooley said “That’s just my philosophy that when I run a classroom that learning is the main focus, and I don’t focus on a student or who they are.” When asked under what circumstances someone wouldn’t accept someone’s gender Cooley said “You’re flipping that, it means that I accept everybody… don’t connect the two between administration and gender, that’s a separate thought.” When asked why she had mentioned Pakistan Cooley said “I have no clue.” and then said “It is saying that I accept all students, and treat them all the same. That is what I was saying.” She also said “There was no ill intent on my part. There was no purpose to hurt anybody or make anybody feel uncomfortable.”
The Fulcrum is currently monitoring the situation and will provide information as it is received. We will update this story as the investigation moves forward.