Some professors feel like they are getting virtually punched with mean comments.

Illustration: Jess Tsang

Professors get cyberbullied too

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By Laura Woodward

After a Maclean’s article surfaced about professors feeling cyberbullied on RateMyProfessors.com — a site allowing students to evaluate their instructors anonymously — The Eyeopener decided to ask Ryerson professors for their opinion about the site’s not-so-nice comments.

“I really try my hardest not to respond to anything on Rate My Prof because what a site like that is going to do is attract people who are highly motivated to comment on your teaching, either adoring you or hating you,” said Lisa Taylor, assistant professor in the school of journalism.

Taylor said the worst thing she ever read on the site “was something about ‘lectures being a joke, I didn’t go to them but I still managed to do fine in the course.'”

A study on post-secondary cyberbullying at Simon Fraser University found that 25 per cent of the 330 faculty members surveyed reported being cyberbullied by students in the past year — 42 per cent of those said the main source of bullying was through RateMyProfessors.com.

“I’m pretty blunt when it comes to Rate My Prof comments because the main point is to help out other students by being as honest as possible about [a professor’s] teaching,” said Ricky Gomez, a third-year accounting student.

The site’s terms of use state that comments regarding any “profanity, name-calling or vulgar, derogatory remarks” will be taken down.

But comments describing profs as “bitches” and “douchebags” still surface the site.

“I think some students get carried away with their comments, especially when they have nothing to do with the prof’s teaching and are more about what the prof looks like,” said Shayna Richmond, a fourth-year nursing student.

But some profs don’t think the comments are accurate and turn to faculty surveys for a depiction of their teaching.

“From a professor’s point of view, you sometimes feel that it’s not true and you wish you could set the records straight,” said Catherine Beauchemin, an associate professor in the physics department.

“For the most part Rate My Prof just becomes a running joke between profs — one prof will read another prof’s comments and make jokes about it to each other,” said Beauchemin.

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