Isn’t There More to the Story at Oakland University? Not Really. (Part 3)

By February 14, 2012

In this blog series, I am discussing the four examples of concerns cited by Oakland University Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Mary Beth Snyder regarding student Joseph Corlett’s "behavior" (all of them actually examples of expression) which "was perceived by female members of the campus community as intimidating and/or threatening." 

We discussed the fourth example, Corlett’s writing journal, in last week’s press release—and I should repeat that the writing journal constituted the only example of the four, according to Snyder, that had "resulted in student-conduct charges." My previous posts described the first two examples, so this post is the last in the series for now. Here’s the third example:

"Unsolicited stories of a sexual nature sent to a female faculty member whom you also invited to meet with you privately off campus"

Corlett’s response

I did ask Dr. Dana Driscoll to meet me off campus, along with her husband, who is also an OU instructor. I was going [to] ask her to be my advisor in my upcoming hearing. Since Ms. Mitzelfeld’s egregious FERPA leak has ‘poisoned the well’, my choice for advisor has been denied by default. Dr. Driscoll and I were Facebook friends and she eagerly assisted me with writing problems as little as 15 days ago. Any ‘stories of a sexual nature’ sent to her were sent for academic criticism only. If she had any objections to this story, why remain my Facebook friend? Why encourage me to take her Peer Tutoring class? Why help me with writing for other classes? Why not file a complaint about the story within the required deadline? Because until she got wind of Ms. Mitzelfeld’s accusations, she had no objections. That’s why. [Emphasis in original.]

Me: As with the other examples, this one has no bearing on adjudicating whether Corlett’s writing journal was some form of intimidation or other unlawful activity against Mitzelfeld. According to Corlett, he wanted to meet with this other professor and her husband so that he could better defend himself against Mitzelfeld’s charge of sexual harassment. Apparently, the university transformed this request into some kind of desire for an illicit liaison. And the professor’s reactions after receiving his story, as suggested by this account, were cooperative—indeed, so cooperative that Corlett hoped that Dr. Driscoll would be his advisor in his sexual harassment hearing.

Anyway, none of these examples can have any place in resolving the question of Corlett’s interactions with Mitzelfeld. What happened earlier between others does not necessarily have any bearing on what happened in the case at hand.

So, is there more to the story in this case, some secret set of evidence that FIRE has been hiding? Nope. 

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