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Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” Inspiration Gets 56-Year-Old Student In Trouble

When I first read this story I thought, “So what’s wrong with what this student wrote?”  Then I started thinking would I feel differently if the teacher were a male and the student were female?  I still stand by my first thoughts on this, and that is, freedom of speech, especially in a college creative writing assignment.

In short, the story goes like this, a 56 year old Oakland University student in Michigan was asked to “journal” in a creative writing class.   Just for the fun of it, I examined the meaning of keeping a journal. According to one online dictionary the definition of keeping a journal is this: A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and ones personal reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary.

That being said, this student, after he was asked to keep a journal was kicked off campus for writing what was deemed a sexually suggestive journal entry about his teacher for a class assignment.

In the 56-year-old’s essay entry, he wrote that he was inspired by the 1984 Van Halen song “Hot for Teacher.”   Joseph Corlett, the student, went on to say that some of his first impressions of his professor Pamela Mitzelfeld, were  “tall, blonde, stacked, smart, articulate.”  I can think of worse things he could have said about her.

I blame the teacher for asking students to “journal” and then getting upset when they actually do what she has asked.  Yes, of course, it might have made her uncomfortable BUT it wasn’t like he walked up to her on the first day of school and said those things to her face.  She asked him to journal, and as a writer myself, I imagine he didn’t even know what he was going to write that day when he sat down to begin his journaling.  That’s how real writing works.  The truth just flows out of you.  Once you start censoring, it ceases to be a true journal and becomes a manufactured story.

The student was not only kicked out of the school but campus officials kicked him off campus.  So what do you think?  Was this fair?  Should he have even been punished?  What should have happened?  Does the teacher play any part in this?

flickr.com/this chicken

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