Isn’t There More to the Story at Oakland University? Not Really. (Part 2)

By February 13, 2012

In this blog series, I am discussing the four examples cited by Oakland University Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Mary Beth Snyder of complaints that student Joseph Corlett’s "behavior" (all of them actually examples of expression) "was perceived by female members of the campus community as intimidating and/or threatening." According to Snyder, the fourth example—Corlett’s writing journal, discussed in last week’s press release—was the only one that "resulted in student-conduct charges."

My previous post described the first example. Here I describe the second one:

"A late night phone call to a female student in your English 380 class who never gave you her phone number"

Corlett’s response: "Although it is not a crime to call any publicly available telephone number at any hour [emphasis in original], if memory serves I did not call much after 10:00 p.m. I called and emailed several classmates that evening. I was in a panic mistakenly thinking I didn’t have an assignment completed that was due the following morning. [The other student] emailed me the next day expressing her family’s displeasure at the timing of my polite message, explained the assignment, and asked that all communication between us be email. I apologized for the call, thanked her for the help, and told her I would not contact her again. I have not."

Me: Oakland University doesn’t say anything about the nature of the call, but one would presume that if it somehow met the standard for student-on-student harassment, intimidation, or true threats (rather than simply being a phone call about an assignment that was bothersome only because of the hour), Oakland would have done something about it at the time. A single phone call might be unwanted, but it’s rarely harassment or otherwise unprotected speech. Also, it’s important to note that Snyder’s letter cited no other complaint from any other student.

Stay tuned for the third example. It’s about as earth-shattering as the first two.

Schools: Oakland University Cases: Oakland University: Student Suspended over His Writing Journal