RateMyProfessor ditches the chili pepper icon

Story by Alyssa Vega Photos by Alyssa Vega and Sydney Fredericks- Selby

Horticulture professor, Jorge Ochoa, admits that the chili pepeper icon on RateMyProfessor.com was a useful tool for the review site. "It is a good source, in my opinion. It's just a rating." Photo by Alyssa Vega

RateMyProfessors.com had confirmed via their Twitter account that the chili pepper icon, which indicates the “hotness” of a professor, was removed from their site after dealing with serious criticism from female professors on Thursday, June 28.

RateMyProfessors.com is a site that allows college students to rate or comment their professors based on homework assignments, exams, and level of difficulty. Before it was dropped, the chili pepper icon has never been specified to mean physical attractiveness or quality of the course. Many believed the chili pepper was an option to rate a professor based on their physical attractiveness.

Horticulture professor, Jorge Ochoa, examines the hot chili pepper in the Garden Shed. The hot chili pepper holds relevancy to the website, RateMyProfessor.com. Photo by Sydney Fredericks- Selby

LBCC fashion merchandising major, Aaliyah Abdulrahmaan, is an active user of the review site and is in favor of ditching the “hotness” icon. Abdulrahmaan finds it strange that students were able to rate how “hot” their professor is instead of focusing on their diligence. “We shouldn’t worry about how they [professors] look, instead we should focus on how they teach the class,” Abdulrahmaan said.

Majority of the faculty find the indication of professor’s hotness is irrelevant to their teaching, but not for horticulture professor Jorge Ochoa.

After admitting that he earned the chili pepper icon on the review site, Ochoa shares his thoughts about it. “I thought it was good thing and there is a reason why it was placed there. The better rating you have, whether they [professors] have a chili pepper or not, it allows students to want to take the class,” Ochoa said. “On the personal side it became more of a over bragging thing for me.”

Other professors, specifically female professors, are not as proud of earning the chili pepper icon on RateMyProfessors.com.

English professor, Karen Rose, has been teaching at LBCC for about sixteen years and is against rating a professor on how attractive he or she is. “I have to say it kind of bothered me because I feel as though when you’re thinking about your professor you shouldn’t be thinking about their physical appearance, so I did not really understand the relevance of ‘hotness’ in terms of the teaching of the professor,” Rose said.

English professor Karen Rose discusses her thoughts on the recent removal of the chili pepper icon. Photo by Sydney Fredericks-Selby

Professor Rose had an incident where the ratings affected her. One of her students stopped by during her office hours and recommended her to look at the comments on RateMyProfessors.com because a student had posted something critical of her physical appearance.

“I logged on and looked at the comments and it was really cruel. I lost sleep over it. I remember I was kind of shocked and horrified by it, but what ended up happening was that the comment disappeared. They [RateMyProfessors.com] must monitor the site,” Rose said.

Some faculty check the review site regularly, but for English professor, Nicole Glick, prefers to ignore her ratings and comments. “I’m very happy that they took it down,” Glick said. “Why are we judging faculty on the way they look? It seems a little superficial, objectifying, and I think particularly for women it’s pretty offensive.”

The icon did not have a serious impact on male professors as it did with the female professors. English professor, Brian Garcia, believes that the chili pepper icon was irrelevant to the evaluation of professors, particularly with the female professors. “The chili pepper was kind of weaponized towards the female instructors,” Garcia said. “ I don’t think with male professors it was as big of a deal, but with my female colleagues I think it became a way of harassment.”

English professor, Brian Garcia, believes that the chili pepper icon was irrelevant to the evaluation of professors, particularly with the female professors. “The chili pepper was kind of weaponized towards the female instructors,” Garcia said. Photo by Sydney Fredericks – Selby

The chili pepper icon seems to have effected one gender more than the other. The consensus among female faculty members has been praised for the removal of the metric. For many of the male faculty members, they did not know it was an issue and were mostly unaffected, and those who voice an opinion were relaying the complaints of their female colleagues.