“Rate My Professor” and “Draw My Professor” — what do they mean?

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By Julianne Mosher

Campus News

The end of the semester is rapidly approaching and students across the nation need to now pick their classes and make their schedules. In order to get the best possible slots, schools offer advisement appointments and professional office hours to help create the perfect schedule.

Students look for good professors when creating a schedule that they must keep for three months. If they hear bad things about a teacher, they end up feeling miserable and lack in academic achievements.

RateMyProfessors.com is a website created in 2001 that lists different colleges and universities within the United States. When one clicks on the school of their choice, names of practically every professor – full-time and adjunct – come up with criticisms about their teachings written by former students.

The site allows students to help others decide whether or not they are easy, hard, funny, crazy, large workload, small workload – basically everything under the sun in order to influence a decision on if they are worthy of your tuition money and time.

Although it can be helpful, the website itself has faced its own backlash. Professors, administrators and even students often question the validation that the comments are. Some believe that the postings are just rants from students who may have had a bad experience with that professor.

Kristy Gerlett, a second-semester transfer student at Stony Brook University, doesn’t trust websites like RateMyProfessors. She would rather talk face-to-face with former and current students about the class who she knows instead of strangers behind a screen.

“It’s either students who strongly dislike professors and others who love them, I need the ones in the middle,” she said. “I ask people I trust and respect.”

The website not only shows the critiques and ratings about teaching style. It is also widely known for its small chili pepper in the corner dictating whether or not the professor is attractive. Should that matter?

Alex Natale, a theater student at Suffolk County Community College, does not agree with the website having a category to rate a teacher’s “hotness.”

“What does it matter if a teacher’s ‘ugly’?” he asked.

While some students openly admit that having a professor who is good-looking is a perk to the class, many feel like appearance should not matter in regards to a rating and, if anything, it is nothing more than a distraction.

“I usually don’t pay attention to the hotness feature,” said graduating Suffolk County Community College student, Kevin Furey. “But if anything, I’d rather have a professor who isn’t hot, that way I’m not distracted by her looks.”

Attractiveness, like most of the site, is merely subjective regarding ones personal taste. Furey said that he doesn’t feel like the site can be wrong about a professor being considered “hot.”

“The hotness feature on RateMyProfessors is incredibly inaccurate. I’ve had plenty of unattractive professors who have a chili pepper on their review,” he said.

RateMyProfessors can be a useful source to gain tips on how to pass certain classes and whether or not a professor uses a textbook that the syllabus claims needs to be purchased. Often enough, the site allows serious students to give their opinion based on substantial experience.

Patricia Soberano, a junior at Stony Brook University, said that she will use the site to research a professor before she decides to take him or her but she will not use it to listen to other students’ perception of beauty.

“It’s inaccurate in relation to their looks considering every student has their own perspective on what is attractive and not,” she said. “But I believe my professor is a good way to gauge whether or not to take a professor and how to approach the class in order to pass.”

But with appearance and ratings based solely on it, the feed becomes more about looks than academic experience or eligibility to teach.

A new site that recently has been put up is one similar to RateMyProfessor but has a different approach. DrawMyProfessor is a website where students can draw a specific teacher at a list of schools.

Like RateMyProfessors, a student may search their college or university on the website and view all of the staff members listed. From there, the student is directed to a piece of “loose leaf” on paint that allows them to get creative and make a rendition of said professor.
Oftentimes the pictures seem to be fair. Some other times, students will use this as a way to retaliate a bad grade or disliking of a certain professor.

Does this new forum cause even more of an issue when it comes to deciding on a professor? What if a student checks out this site and sees that a professor is portrayed as extremely overweight or otherwise considered “ugly?” Should this be accounted for?
Gerlett disagrees and stands by her opinion of the original open forum for professor ratings, RateMyProfessors.com.

As she stated, she said she only listens to the opinions of people she trusts who could have taken the course before her with a particular teacher. She also does not think that by using a site like DrawMyProfessor is an accurate way to find or learn about a professor.

“I think anyone who is responsible enough and cares enough to look into their future professors wouldn’t trust a cartoon site,” she said.

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