By Uhanthaen Ravilojan
The first few weeks of school is a brief burst of optimism. Students convince themselves that this will be the semester where they get eight hours of sleep, boost their GPA and find true love. Some students meticulously swap classes before the closing date of Jan. 24.
During the chaos of timetable adjustments, fourth-year chemistry student and self-proclaimed thrillseeker Sally Greenspan signed up for a course with a professor who didn’t have a profile on Rate My Prof.
As an adventurer at heart, wanderlust tattoo and all, Greenspan’s choice was very much intentional. She loved uncertainty and enjoyed making herself a guinea pig, like a child who eats marbles to see if they’ll rattle around in their stomach while they run.
Rate My Prof serves as a warning system, protecting students from professors who are heavy lecturers or hard markers.
In anticipation, Greenspan spent her winter break staring at her computer screen, repeatedly refreshing RAMSS as classes went from open to closed, leaving her with only a few options.
She checked out the reviews for the remaining professors. One of the professors, Tony Gullio, for the elective MPS 376 Watching Paint Dry, had a Rate My Prof profile bloated with reviews.
“He was a decent prof, but he’d make corny jokes all the time and complained when no one laughed,” said Greenspan. “This would continue throughout the lecture, eventually ending with him lying on his back and rocking side to side like a turtle while repeating ‘Come on, laugh! I’m a real funny fella. Come on, laugh! I’m a real funny fella.’ for the last 45 minutes of class. He did this every week. I don’t know why I always stayed until the end.”
Another review read: “Dr. Gullio is the hardest marker out of all the photography profs, a master of spotting unsupported claims,” Greenspan goes on. “When I write that Leibovitz is the best photographer of her time, Gullio writes ‘Is she?’ When I say Mildred’s makes the best pancakes in Toronto, Gullio says, ‘Do they?’ And when I lay in bed with my partner and say I love them with every fibre of my being, I hear Gullio whisper, ‘Do you?’’
Greenspan wished her life was a surrealist arthouse film. She was disappointed when she found her new apartment at the beginning of the school year filled with roommates, old records and Pulp Fiction posters, as opposed to a two-headed sword swallower and a broken bungee jumping cord.
She needed more thrill. So she considered just taking another chemistry class, CHY 767 The Chemical Properties of Cheese, as the prof, Rajesh Kumar, didn’t have a profile either.
Upon further investigation, Greenspan found screenshots of Kumar’s reviews on a Ryerson prof subreddit called r/nerdspasttheirprime. They were posted by Reddit user ryersonprofPeterShen. Ryerson chemistry professor Peter Shen and Kumar have been rivals for years, after Kumar won numerous awards for his research.
Kumar was a tiny man with a tiny head, who wore a giant top hat. In an angry post on r/professorswithunconventionalstylechoices, Kumar said that he took down the reviews because they were “irrelevant” and that he “did not take them down to quell suspicion, that’s ridiculous.”
The reviews in the screenshot read:
“Cool prof, but what’s with the hat?”
“His tests were pretty hard. Also, he would occasionally flail his arms around, steady himself, whisper to his hat ‘What are you doing? They’re gonna catch on!’ and then continue the lecture.”
“Professor Kumar is obviously being controlled Ratatouille-style by a three-inch expert in organic chemistry. I don’t know why he keeps trying to hide it, everyone in the science department knows. Dr. Kumar, if you’re reading this, take off your hat.”
After reading the reviews, Greenspan knew a professor pulled from a Pixar flick wouldn’t give her the rush she craved.
She eventually enrolled in the elective HIS 444 Wikipedia As Education’s Empire with Beatrice Humphries, a professor who lacked a profile on Rate My Prof after changing her identity because she left too many negative reviews on Google reviews and was ashamed of herself.
After she had her first class with Humphries and the adrenaline wore off, she said that the prof was “just okay, but it was worth the thrill.”
The only thing that threw Greenspan off was that every time somebody in the class would sneeze, the prof would interrupt the lecture to sing “Bless you, my child, wherever you are!”