Education Law

Banned from Campus Over 'Hot for Teacher' Essay, College Student Hires Lawyer to Fight for Return

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A 56-year-old Michigan college student has retained a lawyer to help him fight a ban against returning to the Oakland University campus after he was determined by a hearing committee to have engaged in intimidating conduct.

Joseph Corlett crossed the line, according to the school, by writing an essay for his advanced creative writing class based on the Van Halen song “Hot for Teacher.” He said the essay simply focused on the fact that she is an attractive woman and he never wanted to pursue a relationship with her.

“I repeatedly asked my teacher if there were any content restrictions, she repeatedly said there were not,” Corlett says in a video attached to an Oakland Press article about the controversy.

In addition to more controversial terms, such as, “[t]all, blond, stacked,” according to the article, Corlett said he also described his writing instructor as articulate and smart.

He has appealed and will be allowed to attend classes online in the interim, the newspaper says.

The university has declined to comment, saying through a spokesman that it would be inappropriate to do so concerning a student conduct matter.

However, the university’s independent student newspaper, the Oakland Post, quotes Sherry Wynn Perdue, who serves as director of the university’s writing center and supervises the instructor who is the subject of Corlett’s essay.

Corlett, says Perdue, “never once addressed the course readings but instead used it as a platform to sexualize the instructor, describe his sexual relationship (or lack thereof) with his wife, write about a student in the course, and compose a fake letter from the course instructor to himself in which he admits that his entries are inappropriate and would be met with a visit to the dean of students.”

Attorney Brian Vincent represents Corlett. He says his client has a First Amendment right not to be sanctioned, under a criminal standard, for making someone uncomfortable.

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