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RateMyProfessors.com drops 'chili pepper' rating after social media backlash

A website that allows students to review their college professors has dropped a long-standing "chili-pepper" rating from its site after facing criticism on social media that the rating was used to objectify professors, particularly women.

RateMyProfessors.com tweeted on June 28 that the rating system was removed from the site, but said that the rating was meant to "reflect a dynamic/exciting teaching style."

However, the rating was commonly associated with physical attractiveness. In 2014, RateMyProfessors.com made an April Fool's Day joke out of the chili pepper rating, satirically launching "Date My Professors."

RateMyProfessors' tweet announcing the removal of the chili pepper was sent in reply to BethAnn McLaughlin, a Vanderbilt University professor, according to BuzzFeed. She criticized the rating as "obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching."

Her tweet gained over 15,000 likes and was retweeted thousands of times.

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McLaughlin told the publication that she's heard from both male and female professors who felt the rating was detrimental. 

"Telling students that evaluating professors based on their looks has aged poorly. In the age of #MeToo, #TimesUp and #MeTooSTEM, we know better, so we must do better," McLaughlin wrote in an article on edgeforscholars.org.

Some academics have criticized the effort to remove the rating. A report on Poynter.org documented an exchange between McLaughlin and a male professor who said he was "proud of that rating," calling it an "innocuous thing."

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