A former student at Oakland University in the suburbs of Detroit is suing the school for over $2.2 million after he was kicked out in September 2011 for penning a salacious essay entitled “Hot for Teacher.”
Joseph Corlett, 57, a builder who now resides in Florida, filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, reports the Detroit Free Press. He claims the public university violated his First Amendment right to freedom of expression. He says he also suffered mental anguish and humiliation when he was forced to leave the school.
The suit names the school’s board of trustees and two high-ranking officials as defendants.
When Corlett wrote the essay, he was majoring in writing and rhetoric and working toward a bachelor’s degree. The class at issue was English 380: Advanced Critical Writing. The comely blond instructor was Pamela Mitzelfeld.
Corlett named his cursive composition “Hot for Teacher” after the sexually suggestive 1984 Van Halen song. Its undeniable thesis was that he was very attracted to Mitzelfeld.
“There is no way I’ll concentrate in class especially with that sexy little mole on her upper lip beckoning with every accented word,” the nontraditional student wrote, according to the Free Press. “And that smile.”
“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,” he also wrote, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Corlett also compared Mitzelfeld to Ginger Grant, the movie star castaway on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island.”
Several journal pages were attached to Corlett’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Mitzelfeld promised that students could write about anything. She hoped to get “the raw stuff,” says the suit.
Corlett’s attorney, Alari Adams described the essay as “a whimsical exaggeration of his attraction” to his instructor, notes the Sun-Times.
“In the end, he just ended up getting suspended from school for completing a homework assignment,” Adams told the Free Press.
Oakland University officials apparently saw the matter differently. According to Corlett, school police led him out of Mitzelfeld’s class a couple days after he turned in his journal containing the libertine essay. He was also told that he’d been suspended from school for the remainder of the semester.
In January 2012, a school committee found Corlett guilty of “intimidating behavior” because of his essay. He says he was banned from campus for a year. He would only be allowed back if he successfully completed sensitivity counseling.
An Oakland University representative had no comment, says the Free Press.