Oakland University president denies ‘Hot for Teacher’ essay writer further appeals

March 14, 2012

Oakland University President Gary Russi has sent a letter denying any further appeals by a student who was kicked out after writing a "Hot for Teacher" essay in his creative-writing class.

Russi’s letter arrived Tuesday at the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which tried to have Joe Corlett of Orion Township reinstated, an official of the group said Tuesday.

That’s leading Corlett, 56, to plan on suing the university, he said Tuesday night.

"They’ve painted me into a corner," said the home remodeler, who was taking English classes until last fall when his essay caused the university to ban him from campus, he said.

"Every once in a while, a citizen gets faced with something that’s awfully inconvenient and costly to you and your family, and you still have an obligation to fight," he said.

Corlett said his wife supports his battle with OU and understands his penchant for creative writing, which in the essay used the title "Hot for Teacher" — from a rock song on Van Halen’s album "1984" about a student who fantasized about a teacher.

Officials at the foundation said in a letter to OU that Corlett’s freedom of speech had been infringed and that he was being prosecuted by OU as if he were a criminal.

But Russi’s letter to the organization, dated Monday, said that OU does not believe Corlett’s expression in his essay "was protected by the First Amendment as you allege."