The Rate Stuff

Why should the faculty be the only campus service that students get to rate, professors at U of All People wondered. was born, and David Galef describes the carnage.

May 30, 2014 has endured a lot of criticism since it started over two decades ago, and why not? That some twerp in the back row of your Econ 101 class is going to get back at you for failing him on the midterm -- “Professor Aaronson is a bore” -- has particularly galled the economics department at U of All People, since 85 percent of all the economics faculty have been called bores: crashing, unmitigated, utter, and total. And not in 15 years have any of the teaching staff rated a chili pepper, except for one adjunct woman whose contract wasn’t renewed. After last year’s debacle, in which no econ prof rated above a 1.3 in clarity, the department convened a special meeting.

Paying the students and dumbing down the syllabuses were discussed and rejected as too demeaning. Finally, Professor Siplaian De Man suggested a diversionary tactic. “Why not have them rate other parts of the university, and maybe they’ll leave us alone?”

Thus was born, along with the RMU app, linked in to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and for some reason Pandora and Tinder. In its first six months, it has soared to the #7 spot in App-List and might have made De Man some real money, but the app was developed during a faculty meeting and hence is the property of U of All People. Below are just some of the incoming ratings.


Easiness 5.0. “It’s easy to find in the student center. You can smell it from two blocks off.”

Clarity 1.3. “Impossible to distinguish between the chili mac and a toxic waste dump.”

Helpfulness 1.9. “You want fries with that?” is where it begins and ends.

Interest 3.3. “Everyone’s gotta eat, but they don’t gotta eat this.”


Easiness 2.7. “Easy to look at, sure, but a multicolored sheep (ewe of all people) isn’t much of a crowd‑rouser.”

Clarity 2.2. “Hard to understand what the ewe is saying through that stupid chin fleece (I think it’s the SGA president Shep Heard, inside).”

Helpfulness 2.2. “Ha! Lost the last seven football games, including one in which a 52‑yard football pass bounced off the ewe’s butt. See YouTube!”

Interest 4.9. “Hell, yes! We’re interested in getting another mascot!”


Easiness 3.4. “Depends on how comfortable you are living in a refugee camp.”

Clarity 3.9. “Nobody said that the rules against drug use are posted on the bulletin board.”

Helpfulness 2.1. “They told me to talk to the RA in Room 601, but this dorm has only five floors.”

Interest 5.0. “Definitely interested in moving off campus next year.”


Easiness 1.5. “Try squeezing an Escalade in between two minivans! Drove around for almost an hour before giving up. Almost worth the $100 fine to nab a handicapped spot.”

Clarity 1.7. “Hard to see where the yellow cross‑hatching ends. And WTF does ‘Orange zone for half‑time residents’ mean?”

Helpfulness 2.0. “Not too damned helpful to be told that both commuter lots are full.”

Interest 4.1. “In parking? High, unless I buy that secondhand bike from my roommate.”


Easiness 1.3. “Hard to get to class on time when the room is in a sub‑basement half a mile away.”

Clarity 3.0. ”Echo makes everything sound double. Did Econ 101 homework twice last week because of that.”

Helpfulness 2.7. “Opposite of a smart classroom: a dumb classroom. Whitewashed cinder block walls that don’t even have an outlet for your cell phone. Looks like something out of Dickens, which we read last semester in -- seriously -- this classroom!”

Interest 1.4. “I like the view out the window of the nicer classrooms across the courtyard.”


Easiness 2.5. “Weighs 15 lbs. (I used the scale at the fitness center).”

Clarity 2.9. “Greek to me, which is silly, since it’s supposed to be teaching me Italian.”

Helpfulness 2.8. “The web links are broken most of the time.”

Interest 4.0. “Taking good care of it. Hope it has decent resale value.”


Easiness 3.5. “Not too hard to pull off in six or seven years . Check out this selfie of us future alums pulling up our gowns to moon the podium!”

Clarity 2.3. “Wish someone had explained to me when I was a freshman that I wouldn’t be able to get a job afterward. Career Center’s a joke.”

Helpfulness 3.1. “We were supposed to assemble where?”

Interest 3.9. “Less than I used to have.”

Sadly, all these ratings haven’t focused attention away from the economics department. This past semester, Professor De Man rated a 1.4 in clarity, though it turned out he was on sabbatical at the time.


David Galef directs the creative writing program at Montclair State University. His latest book is the short story collection My Date With Neanderthal Woman (Dzanc Books).



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