Saturday, 31 January 2015

Stop Writing Sexist Evaluations says Rutgers Law School Dean

Law School Dean Urges Students To Stop Making ‘Wildly Inappropriate’ Sexist Comments About Female Professor

Throughout my academic career, I’ve displayed an array of sartorial styles. For years, I veered sharply between “Impoverished Graduate Student” and “British Diplomat.” One summer I taught exclusively in khakis and t-shirts. Lately, it’s been a small rotating cast of Banana Republic’s finest (that 40% off sale every weekend always pulls me in).
Of course, one would never know any of this by reading my student evaluations. That’s because I’m a man.
It has come to my attention that a student submitted an evaluation that explored, in some detail, the fashion stylings of one of your professors. It will surprise no one possessing the slightest familiarity with student evaluations that this professor is a woman. Women are frequently targets of evaluative commentary that, in addition to being wildly inappropriate and adolescent, is almost never directed at men. Believe me, I am about the last person on this faculty for whom the “sexism” label falls readily to hand, but after a lifetime of hearing these stories, I know it when I see it. Anyone who doubts this would find it instructive to stop by and ask any one of our female professors about this and similar dynamics.
Student evaluations are an important tool. They are also a public one, and become part of the permanent record of every faculty member. (Not the bit of fashion advice at issue here, which I struck from the evaluation system in a nanosecond.) When you compose comments about faculty – which can be as direct, negative, and harshly detailed as you like – I want you to remember that you’re writing for the personnel file, and for history. If you have any doubts that posterity will somehow muddle through without the benefit of your fashion advice, allow me to dispel them once and for all.
Adam F. Scales
Vice Dean and Professor of Law
Rutgers School of Law, Camden