Imagine a world where humans based their societal interactions on review-style ratings of other human beings. You don’t have to envision this Black Mirror episode plot because it already happens every semester on college campuses across the country.
You’ve more than likely heard of, and have even used, the “ratemyprofessors.com” website before.
Rate My Professors allows students to leave a Yelp-like review of college professors and the courses they teach. Not surprisingly, this website is seen as a necessary tool in many students’ class scheduling every semeter.
Not only is using Rate My Professors encouraged by classroom peers, but even counselors have started to suggest planning ahead using the site. So, if it comes across as harmless to the average introspective student looking for which classes to take, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is the effect it has on the teachers, courses and even the University.
Bad reviews can lower attendance. In most cases, the only reason anyone leaves a review is because they had a less-than-pleasant experience. People rarely go out of their way to write a good review and instead send their thanks personally to the teacher.
Reviews can also take too much into account professors' personalities over their ability to educate. You shouldn’t miss out on a class and material that interests you just because of a few bad reviews.
On Rate My Professor, users can also categorize professors by phrases like “tough-grader” or “test-heavy.” These categories classify educators as villains for wanting their students to truly learn.
Even with all this, people still defend the website by saying that if a college or professor is that bad, maybe being called out is what they deserve, and they should make changes in the future.
However, multiple tools are already used to assess this, such as end-of-course evaluations and being held accountable for class averages.
Besides the obviously messed-up morals of publicly rating another human being, Rate My Professors has no form of verification for users. This means that anyone can create an account and post whatever they want about whomever they want.
For example, it took me all but five minutes to create an account and give Kevin McLovin the lowest possible rating for his poor teaching in WGS 6030 at the University. The University doesn’t have a Kevin McLovin or a WGS 6030 class.
If this website is becoming so crucial in students' decisions on which classes to take with which professors, what’s stopping professors from incentivizing current students who give them good ratings? And what’s stopping students from using bad ratings as a threat for individualized grading curves?
Rate My Professors offers nothing more than an outlet to mislead students and scare them away from important classes just because they may be more difficult. In the end, the website does more harm than good.
Gabrielle Martinez is an 18-year-old mass communication freshman from Gonzales, Louisiana.