Rain drop, drop top, here come the hot profs

Header: Prof. Russell Cobb (left) and Prof Sean Caulfield (right)

Admit it. You’ve checked out your professors on Rate my Prof and looked forward to the first day of classes after you were greeted with a vibrant chili pepper on their profile.

But how do these notoriously “hot” professors feel about their chili pepper approval rating? I reached out to 13 male and female professors from various departments at the U of A. Some flat out said they weren’t interested, a few specified that it made them uncomfortable, many politely declined, and others ghosted me without offering a reply. Only two agreed to meet.

Sean Caulfield, Centennial Professor, Fine Arts

How do you feel about being rated “hot” on Rate My Professor?

I guess I feel good about it. I don’t look at that site that often, but I always viewed it like the (Certified Fresh) rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I doesn’t literally necessarily mean I’m hot. It’s a metaphor for hopefully I’m a good teacher. I honestly didn’t read “hot” as literally hot. Perhaps I’m living proof of that theory in the sense that I wouldn’t consider myself hot … If that hot chili pepper was taken in a way I don’t read it, but in a more simplistic way then maybe that’s not ideal.

It appears as though more male professors are rated hot than female professors. Do you think there are different standards?
I would hope not.

Do you think there are certain disciplines that are inherently hotter than others?
No, I don’t think so. I think there’s good teachers everywhere. Just as there’s teachers that struggle with certain things.

Anything you’d like to add?

One serious thought I had about this is I think any kind of review of teaching is good. Whether it’s a kind of fun site or a more structured site, it’s good for students to communicate … These things are important, but students should also go into the classroom with an open mind.

Russell Cobb, Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Cultural Studies

How do you feel about being rated “hot” on Rate My Professor?

Oh my God. It’s really embarrassing … It’s not part of the job description. It feels like it shouldn’t have anything to do with academia. Everything in our lives, in this highly mediatized, specticleized society is about attractiveness. It doesn’t surprise me.

It appears as though more male professors are rated hot than female professors. Why do you think that is?

Obviously there are different standards. We see it all over life and academia is no exception. But what I think is interesting about that is I would have assumed it was the other way around because the standards are that women get more evaluated on their attractiveness than men … The faculty I’m in, there are more women … There are more female students than male. Especially in language departments it’s even more skewed.

Anything you’d like to add?

Of course professors are going to say (Rate my Prof is) terrible, but it’s kind of pernicious. Obviously the chili pepper is a kind of wild card that’s thrown in there and it’s probably fun, it’s probably added to get people excited, but easiness (now, level of difficulty) was one of the categories. What does that even mean? Easy to get an A? … It’s just a seriously flawed model … Some enterprising student in the Business school should come up with some kind of more interactive platform where you can (evaluate) something more than just
easiness and hotness.

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