School says student's 'Hot' essay was harassment

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- A Detroit-area university is defending the suspension of a 57-year-old student, saying his lustful writings about a teacher violated the school's policy against harassment and don't deserve First Amendment protection.

Oakland University in Auburn Hills acknowledged that Joseph Corlett got good marks for earlier work with sexual themes. But he was booted in 2012 when Corlett turned to his attention to writing instructor Pamela Mitzelfeld, whom he compared to the sultry starlet Ginger from the 1960s TV series "Gilligan's Island."

Corlett's lawsuit in federal court in Detroit seeks more than $2 million for mental anguish and the embarrassment of being removed from Oakland.

"Corlett's case is not even a close one," the university said in a recent court filing, its first formal response since the lawsuit was filed in March.

"Serious educational concerns are clearly triggered when a student fails to recognize the monumental inappropriateness of directing a missive toward his instructor that describes her as 'stacked,' depicts her as the object of his sexual urges, compares her with an oversexed caricature from a television sitcom, and casts to the wind his worries over his wife's reaction to all of this," attorney Leonard Niehoff wrote.

Oakland University is asking U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan to dismiss the case.

Corlett, who now lives in Sarasota, Fla., is a home builder who pursued a college degree because of the weak economy. He enrolled full-time in 2011 after earning an associate degree from a community college.

His troubles began when he submitted a journal in a writing class titled "Hot For Teacher," the name of a song by the rock band Van Halen. In his writings, he feared being distracted by his attraction for Mitzelfeld and said, "I'll never learn a thing." He wrote that another teacher who was pregnant was "hot, and not just from baking the bun in her oven."

In an interview earlier this year, Corlett said students in the English 380 class were told to write honestly and that no topic was off limits. His attorney has until Friday to file a response to the university's request that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Corlett's suspension requires him to undergo sensitivity counseling if he ever wants to return as a student.

Published: Wed, May 29, 2013


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