For almost twenty years the site RateMyProfessors.com has been loved by students and reviled by teachers. The website allows students to anonymously rate and critique students at educational institutions across the world. The site can be a helpful way for students to decide which classes to take it can also be abused, and the people behind the site haven’t always helped their case. This is especially true when it comes to the “hotness rating.”
That’s right, current students weren’t just invited to let potential students know about things like a teachers skill and grading curve, they were also asked to rate whether or not the teacher was physically attractive.
For years everyone who looked up their teacher on Rate My Professors could see whether or not the teacher had earned a red chili symbol, which was given to teachers who had been described as hot by their students.
You might think that this feature would be something that the site would have been downplaying in recent years, playing it off as a relic of an era when the internet was more of an intellectual wild west. But the fact is that the site has been publishing a list of the most attractive teachers yearly. And this didn’t start in the 90s, it started in 2017 and is just ending this year.
The downfall of the hotness rating came when a teacher at Vanderbilt University named BethAnn McLaughlin took to Twitter to criticize the feature. She called out the site’s official Twitter handle, @ratemyprofessor and invoked the #TimesUP movement to call on the site to change their setup.
While many teachers have criticized this feature over the years the site has mostly ignored complaints. This might be because other criticisms were scattered, while the Tweet from Mrs. McLaughlin inspired a tidal wave of follow-up tweets that brought the issue to nationwide attention.
Eventually, Rate My Professors was forced to respond. They directly addressed Mrs. McLaughlin’s tweet, saying that while the “hotness” rating wasn’t supposed to be about physical attraction, they recognized her concerns and had decided to remove it from their site.
While many were happy with the site’s decision, there were many others who took issue with the official statement. The connotations of the chili pepper icon are clear to just about anyone and internet sleuths quickly uncovered a variety of tweets from the official Rate My Professors account that suggest the chili pepper was, in fact, referring to something other than a “dynamic” teaching approach.
Still, this is clearly a positive step forward for teachers who want to be taken seriously rather than be judged based on appearances.