Phi Beta Cons

Oakland U. Prosecutes ‘Hot for Teacher’ Student

Oakland University has suspended a student, Joseph Corlett, for three semesters, banned him from campus, and required that he submit to ”sensitivity” training because he wrote in a class assignment that he found his instructors attractive.

Campus administrators oddly deemed two items in Corlett’s creative writing journal ”unlawful individual activities,” even though his professor described it as ”a place for a writer to try out ideas and record impressions and observations” as well as to engage in ”freewriting/brainstorming” and “creative entries” on any topic.

Joseph Corlett has sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which calls the university’s punishment “a wild overreaction” and issuance of “a straitjacket to every writing student to protect the delicate sensibilities of faculty and staff.” 

What caused faculty and administrators to run for the smelling salts? One entry in Corlett’s journal, titled “Hot for Teacher,” relates his concern about being distracted in class by attractive professors. And another says his professor is like Ginger from the television series Gilligan’s Island, while another professor is like the character Mary Ann.

FIRE is assisting Corlett in his appeal against the university’s draconian punishment. Regarding its demand for sensitivity counseling, “ FIRE’s Adam Kissel aptly quips:

Oakland University is treating Corlett like a student with a mental disability who needs counseling for insensitivity. I can hardly imagine what kind of counseling Oakland would have required for Quentin Tarantino, Vladimir Nabokov, or Stephen King.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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