A student at Oakland University in Michigan has been suspended for three semesters because of something he wrote in a journal assignment for an English class. Though students were encouraged to record their thoughts and feelings, Joseph Corlett’s thoughts and feelings were deemed inappropriate.
Corlett wrote about his physical attraction to some of his female teachers, including the writing instructor checking his journal assignments. None of the content was threatening, but the instructor, Pamela Mitzelfeld, complained to campus authorities. She also said that Corlett’s support for concealed carry laws–which he expressed in a letter to the school newspaper–made her feel unsafe around him.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education maintains that Corlett’s First Amendment rights were violated, and that he should be allowed to return to class immediately:
FIRE maintains that Corlett’s rights were violated by the university, and that there was no reason to treat him as threatening. “It is not against the law to be — or to be perceived as — a creep,” said Adam Kissel, vice president of FIRE. Noting that many great writers have expressed their admiration for women (in ways that shocked and offended many), Kissel said, “I can hardly imagine what kind of counseling Oakland would have required for Quentin Tarantino, Vladimir Nabokov, or Stephen King.