Perusing the internet, as I seem to be doing all of the time, I have found a gold mine of an article. Thanks to Yahoo’s interest in weird and disturbing news, I have found another kink in the education system that is supposed to be encouraging our creative minds.
Personally, I have had a wonderful experience both in my undergrad and graduate experience. For some students like 56-year-old Joseph Corlett, speaking your mind in class is apparently frowned upon for a writing student. Wait, say that again. You say that a writing student is being penalized for speaking his mind? What has the world come to that a professor can assign a creative writing journal and then claim the contents are too offensive? I thought the point of creative writing was to write whatever you thought and when a teacher says nothing is off limits, nothing is off limits.
Well, the article above describes this enthusiastic student now being kicked off campus and sued for sexual harassment because Van Halen’s hit “Hot For Teacher” apparently was too offensive for one teacher. I understand that there are times where people’s thoughts just shouldn’t be written down. However, this is not one of those times. Having a male student write in his “no boundaries” journal that you’re attractive in his first impression of you is NOT sexual harassment in my mind.
I know that some people are more sensitive than others, but as a college professor, you should either restrict your students or grow some balls, seriously. The man wasn’t saying that he wanted to rape her. Taking offense to sexual themes in writing is like saying that boy scouts are offensive for trying to sell popcorn for their next camping trip.
As a student of literature, the sexual nature of all animals is just a natural part of life. It shouldn’t be censored because one teacher can’t handle her students. I know that some “kids,” yes KIDS (high school students) may take an assignment like this and go too far (talk about having sex or drugs), but when did sex become off limits for adults? If we took everything offensive out of writing and literature, this would be 1984. Guess what? It’s not.
We’re in America and we’re supposed to have the freedom to express ourselves especially through writing. I am appalled at the reaction of the teacher as well as the school. In a world where children are diagnosed with A.D.D. at the drop of a hat and people scream terrorist when they see someone remotely anxious. It’s a place where paranoia reigns supreme and suing people is our national past time. I wish that people knew how difficult it is for writers to get past this offensive barrier. Oh wait, we do!
After hundreds of years of people oppressing our ideas and banning books, how haven’t we learned? Students should be nurtured and encourage to express their raw emotions or offensive ones. My previous post of the “Write for Life” program lives by the idea of allowing troubled teen girls to express their darkest emotions. No one would dare censor them because of sexual feelings. You want to know why? Because it’s healthy to express those feelings. This man was not some young freshman trying to get into bed with his teacher. He was simply stating a fact. Stating a truth that normally he wouldn’t have said out loud, but since it was in a creative writing journal WITH NO BOUNDARIES, he thought it would be safe to express himself.
I think the hardest part about this situation is that we, as writers, have worked so hard to gain respect for telling the truth about life. Although fiction is not complete truth, it is grounded in the realities that we live in. This student’s reputation will be forever tainted because he wrote his teacher was attractive. I know that people deserve respect, especially teachers.
However, what happened to respecting the growth of a student’s learning? Regardless of what exactly was written, the point is to allow him to feel comfortable expressing himself. If we can’t share ideas without the fear of being censored or sued for something that MIGHT offend someone, nothing would ever be written or published. It was just an assignment in class. He wasn’t making inappropriate comments in public or attempting to touch her. If this is the way that teachers and university respond to sexual references in student’s work, I am glad that I’m not at that school.
The education I’m getting is at least honest in what it expects out of its students. Sex is NOT off limits, especially for the poets, and they encourage any subject to be addressed. Writers should not be limited and shoved into a box of what some professor or institution wants them to write about. There should be a freedom is writing whatever you want, and knowing that you’re entitled to write your feelings.
The opinion in this post doesn’t reflect any ties to the article above and I apologize if I offend anyone in my blatant disregard for ninnies and wimps who can’t handle the reality of human expression.