A 56-year-old student was banned from Michigan's Oakland University for writing a lengthy essay about how hot his writing professor was — oh, and possibly having a "gun obsession." Now he wants to be reinstated — and for some reason, an advocacy group thinks posting his essay online is the way to accomplish that. Read his bizarre musings below.
Joseph Corlett was apparently assigned to keep a journal for his Advanced Critical Writing class last year. He kept it in an old-school composition book, which he filled with lovely cursive. In one of his first entries, he addresses his professor Pamela Mitzelfeld directly:
I'm going to write honestly here with no apology. I hope you like me and aren't offended but I'm paying you to kick my ass into becoming a better writer. As long as we view our student/teacher relationship as patient/doctor I think we'll be fine. Perhaps confessor/priest?
This is the first clue that the contents of the journal are not going to be normal. The next: an essay titled "Hot for Teacher," which has an epigraph (very classy, Joe!) from the Van Halen song of the same name. Here, just read the whole thing (all sic):
Hot for Teacher
"I've got it bad, bad, bad, I'm hot for teacher..." Van Halen
She is short, height/weight proportionate and brunette like my wife of thirty (30) years and introduces herself to spanish class as Argentinian/Italian. Omygod. Latin and Italian? Are you kidding me? Holy shit I should drop right now, there is no way I'll concentrate in class especially with that sexy little mole on her upper lip beckoning with every accented word. And that smile.
No, I've never dropped a class yet, even Computer Aided Design where I earned my first "C" since resuming my college education in 2008. I'll tough it out.
It's tough to be a guy. I remember when riding my bike was suddenly pointless as all I thought about were girls. No money, no car, no social skills, and a face full of blemishes and all I want is a girl. My face cleared, I get a job a car and a girl eventually, but it was rough in between. Ladies, for pure sexual stamina, you'll do no better than a fifteen-year-old male, but check your local age of consent laws before engagement. It sucks to admit but...
From age twelve to thirty the male brain is clogged by sex. It's a wonder we can think at all. About [struck: a decade ago] twenty years ago, I'll be 56 in November of 2011, the fog began to lift. It was refreshing to have some spare in my brain to think about thoughts other than sex. Like dropping from a hundred time a dat to just 20. What a relief, but you don't get wood at the titty bars anymore. Small tradeoff.
I can't believe I just wrote that but I did and it's staying. I don't give a fuck. It is what it is. I WILL NOT TEAR THIS PAGE.
My first battle with the hot for teacher thing, aside from second grade, was fought in Composition I at Oakland Community College. She was blonde and attractive in the Meg Ryan kind of way which I usually don't go for. (Fucking preposition at the end of that sentence, Fuck it) FOR WHICH I DO NOT GO? YEAH, RIGHT.
I shouldn't have taken her for Comp 2 but I couldn't resist smart and pretty. I aced in both but that only encouraged me. Her skirt came unzipped in Comp 2 one day and her polka-dotted panties were exposed. I was a perfect gentleman and discretely told her to pull her sweater over. She smiled and thanked me. It is our delicious little secret.
(Intro transition here).
Then there's Ms. Mitzelfeld, English 380. She walks in and I say to myself "Drop, motherfucker, drop." Kee-rist, I'll never learn a thing. Tall, blond, stacked, skirt, heels, fingernails, smart, articulate, smile. I'm toast but I stay, I'll fuck up my whole Tuesday-Thursday class thing if I drop. I'll search for something unattractive about her. No luck yet. Shit.
I'm in the student lounge an hour before class and slightly caffinated. I've had a few worries lately, the first that Lynn Anne, my wife, would read this. But now I don't care. I suppose my fear is a good sign that I'm writing honestly.
The second worry was re-reading what I've previously written while drinking. It's not as bad as I thought and I'm determined to keep the no-page-tear-out rule. I swear too much when I drink.
SPACE FOR YOU TO WRITE STUFF:
HOT FOR TEACHER CONTINUED
I'm not a maniac for every female although I try to find something attractive about everyone. My Women's History instructure has the pleasant, no-make-up-don't-dive-off-any-flirty-vibe, very similar to [REDACTED]. However, my history professor sets off my gaydar and [REDACTED] does not. I could not have sex with either of these women even if you offered me a million dollars cash. I couldn't get the necessary cooperation, if you get my drift.
Spanish was the first class I'd even dropped since resuming my college career. With hindsight, it was probably my lack of consistent practice, not the lip-ridiing mold, that did me in.
Not oddly, Mitzelfeld (apparently one of the teachers he was "hot for") disapproved of his essay. What is a little odd is the fact that he transcribed her note into his journal apparently made up a note from her and wrote it in his journal. In the note, she calls his essay "completely inappropriate" and says "if this continues, I am obligated to report you to the Dean." Apparently it did continue — a few entries later, there's another "Hot for Teacher Continued":
HOT FOR TEACHER CONTINUED...
Ginger or Maryanne? That's the eternal male question based on the 60's situation comedy Gilligans Island, where the glamorus [sic] actress and the buxom farm girl are marooned. When asked, my buddy George chooses Marianne without hesitation, while Tom pauses several seconds before selecting Ginger. I've always been a Ginger man myself but I think [struck: my Maryanne], Dr. Spearman, my Fiction teacher, may be my Maryanne as Mrs. Mitzelfeld is my Ginger.
Dr. Spearman has dark hair and eyes and occasionall [sic] rests her hand across her pregnant belly. However, it is her relentless teaching style I find irresistable [sic]. I've heard sled dogs will [struck: mush] run themselves to an exhurtive [sic] death withot [sic] counteracting by their [struck: driver] musher. Wiping the sweat from her brow, Dr. Spearman would teach until she dropped were it not for the requisite break and stop times.
She is hot, and not just from baking the bun in her oven. (TOO CLICHE?) When we're alone after class, I politely told her I love her style. She admits to loving her job and appreciates my noticing.
And a few months after that (specifically, on November 29), Mitzelfeld did report him. Creepy as it is, his journal has amusing elements — witness, for instance, the small drawings he made to indicate which beverages he was drinking at the time of each entry. In an email to other faculty and staff at Oakland, however, Mitzelfeld makes him sound a lot less amusing:
Due to our recent discovery that Joseph Corlett has made his gun obsession obvious to other colleagues and has managed to make himself known in negative ways to so many other females on campus, I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable and unsafe. As he has written letters to our school newspaper defending the right to carry concealed weapons on campus, I cannot feel safe knowing that he might have a weapon with him at any time. He might have had a gun in his backpack when he sat 20 feet away from me at the writing center last week. [...]
Please grant this request and advocate for me as necessary. Either Mr Corlett leaves campus or I do. I will not be afraid to go to the ladies restroom, as I was today, because someone informed me that he was in the library.
This is an unacceptable and dangerous work environment.
Subsequently, Corlett was banned from school for three semesters. He's currently taking online classes. The letter Mitzelfeld was talking about was sent to the Oakland Post in response to a pro-gun-control editorial (the editorial itself was inspired by Jared Loughner's Arizona shooting spree). Corlett wrote, in part:
Your editorial correctly noted that Michigan law prohibits concealed pistol licensees from carrying concealed pistols in college classrooms and dorms but failed to mention that according to Michigan State Police Legal Update No. 86, unconcealed pistols are legal in classrooms and dorms by CPL holders.
I provided the Oakland Post this information last semester. How sad and unprofessional those emotions of current events cloud your journalistic judgment and you renege on written promises to freelancers, denying critical balance to readers. I will provide "The Story the Oakland Post Does Not Want You To Read" to anyone who e-mails a request.
I hope Oakland University institutes a ban on poorly reasoned and researched editorials and that the ban stays in place.
Obviously, I have emailed Corlett with a request for "The Story the Oakland Post Does Not Want You To Read." He has not yet responded. Just from the letter and his journals, though, it's obvious that he's someone who had constant sexual thoughts about his teachers, had no compunction about sharing them, and also wanted to assert his right to carry a gun into his classroom. Especially in the wake of the Loughner shootings (which he dismisses in his letter as "current events"), this sounds like a disturbing combination.
Corlett is currently campaigning to come back to Oakland. He says, "I want to be reinstated. I want my lawyer fees paid. I want to be made whole." To that end, he's sought the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which put him in touch with attorney Brian Vincent.
Vincent hasn't responded to my questions about Corlett's "gun obsession" or the allegation that he was a danger to his professors. However, he did tell the Detroit Free Press, "Obviously he's got a wild sexual imagination in some instances, but it's not harmful." And FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel says, "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." It's not clear whether Joseph Corlett is a dangerous gun nut. One thing is abundantly clear, though: he's no Nabokov.
Update: I spoke with Briant Vincent, who told me that his client never mentioned a desire to carry a gun to class or on campus, and that his letter to the editor expressing his support for the Second Amendment was the only reason he was aware of that Mitzelfeld would conclude he had a "gun obsession." He also said that he handed heard any complaints of Corlett intimidating other students, though commenters on the Oakland Post website have alleged this. He said Corlett was banned because his gun-rights letter scared Mitzelfeld, and she "believed that Joe wanted more than what he actually did want" from her. He called Mitzelfeld's feelings on the subject "a fabrication out of thin air."
University student kicked out over 'Hot for Teacher' essay [Detroit Free Press, via USA Today]
Writing about Attraction to Professors Gets Oakland U. Student Suspended [FIRE]