Although DogEars has been available to Marquette students for two years, the Web site that allows students to rate their professors has proved to be more than a passing trend.
A year-round Internet site allows for the discussion before classes even begin. DogEars.net, available to Marquette students through Marquette Student Government, provides a forum for students to comment on professors they have taken classes with and read other students' comments on professors they are considering taking a class with.
According to Emily Rostkowski, MUSG Executive Vice President and College of Arts & Sciences senior, DogEars was started and is maintained by Columbia University students. She said the program has been at Marquette for two years but has only been fully utilized for one year.
On DogEars, students post reviews to tell their fellow students which professors are going to make class fun this semester, which ones are going to put students to sleep or which ones are going to eliminate all free time with heavy workloads.
Rostkowski said MUSG has a DogEars coordinator, College of Business Administration senior Jennie Smith, who reads the reviews before posting them. She makes sure the reviews contain only information on the professor's teaching style and course load and don't include attacks on the professor's reputation.
Almost all Marquette professors are reviewed by at least one student. Sophia Ceulemans, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she has used DogEars at the beginning of four semesters and had only two professors she could not find.
While some professors receive unanimous positive or negative reviews, many receive mixed reviews.
Although many students find the Web site useful in determining which professors to take classes with, few find it foolproof.
"I think a lot of people are trying to get different things out of (classes)," said Colleen Burke, a junior in Arts & Sciences.
Burke said she prefers to ask her friends about professors they have taken, because she understands their perspectives.
Some students admit that some reviews do not help, but overall, they usually provide an accurate portrayal of the professor.
Alicia Stone-Zipse, sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said it is important to read all the reviews because some students get upset about a bad grade and do not give the professor a fair review.
Due to the distortions, students have developed methods to determine whether a review is fair to the professor.
"I look for how well the review is written," said Julie Riederer, a College of Arts & Sciences sophomore.
Other students agreed with Riederer that a well-written review is more credible than a poorly written one.
Stone-Zipse said she also looks to see if writers use real examples to back up their claims about a professor.
Trying to find good professors for next semester is not the only use of the reviews.
Burke said she likes to see what other people have to say about professors she took in the past. She said the only time she posted a review was to defend a professor who received negative reviews Burke felt were unfair.
Other students said they had similar experiences.
"I had a class where I actually didn't read the review until I was done with the class," Ceulemans said. "Other students that had (the professor) really didn't like him at all, but I didn't think the class was that bad."
DogEars has tools other than professor reviews, Rostkowski said, including a textbook exchange, which allows students to sell and buy books from each other.
DogEars also offers an equivalent to the Facebook, where students can post their photographs and create a profile as well as a message board, a place to find or offer rides for traveling students and listings of area merchants, Rostkowski said.
DogEars requires a subscription, which MUSG pays for from its budget and with the advertisements from area merchants.
DogEars.net can be accessed through the Marquette Student Government Web site at musg.mu.edu.
This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Jan. 27 2005.