Ratings, arbitrary comments are no way to schedule courses


"Have you taken Professor X?!" "I heard from my roommate's ex-girlfriend's sister that he gives hard tests," and "Oh, I know someone who's had her…drop that class."  Remarks like this are rife in normal conversation around the time for enrollment in classes.   

"Professor-gossip" seems to dictate more schedules than graduation requirements or avoiding morning classes on Fridays.  This conversation of third-party input doesn't end at the lunch table either.  For the two of you on this campus who may not know, there is now a popular forum for getting anonymous advice about professors called "ratemyprofessors.com."  This site, though having no means of accountability and surely being riddled with disgruntled emotion, is a popular tool used to evaluate whether or not a student should engage in certain academic endeavors.  There is even a section to rank professors' "hotness," yes, in terms of sexual attractiveness, just in case you're worried about not being able to keep your eyes open for those 8:10 a.m. classes.  These all seem like valid ways to rate professors.  Why trust the rigorous hiring and tenure process of the university when masked students who bombed the final can give us tips online?   

For this reason, it is evident that our professors must respond with a "ratemystudents.com," where disgruntled professors can rate your time spent in office hours, average participation, and attendance for other professors to review.  Even better, graduate school professors and high school teachers can comment on performance as well!  It's a no-rules match and you've got your hands tied.  Not only should this feedback provide a reliable way of giving students SPAC numbers, but it is also a way to "quick reference" students before allowing them in the class in the first place, and the ballpark grade of the first paper.  It's a curiously efficient way of the future to evaluate students, forget the traditional and dated "blank slate" paradigm.  Again, why trust the process of admissions when you can have previous encounters with professors dictate your direction in life?   

It is an unfortunate reality that certain students are deterred from taking particular classes because of what they've heard about a particular instructor.  Students and professors are all unique and react differently with one another.  Rather than relying on a friend's opinion, or worse—a source obstructed by anonymity, it is important for students to take classes based on the materials they are interested in, get to know a professor, and judge the professor's performance for him- or herself.  Just as students would hate professors talking about them every time they were late for class, it seems unfair that we allow emotional and upset students to determine the material we learn from our highly qualified faculty at DePauw. 

— Burns is a sophomore political science major from West Lafayette, Ind., and Kirkpatrick is a sophomore political science major from Overland Park, Kan. They are the hosts of DePauwlitics, heard every Tuesday from 8-9 pm on 91.5 WGRE. opinion@thedepauw.com