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May 15, 1998
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Teacher Review: 
Ignorance Breeds Censorship


Published May 15, 1998


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The Guillotine

By Shaunn Cartrwright


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Ah, the semester is nearly over, and students and faculty alike are looking forward to a long break from academia. Everyone except Ryan Lathouwers, that is.

His well-intended Teacher Review Web site ( has come under intense attack, criticism and even litigation. What I don’t understand is what the controversy is all about.

Freedom of speech is to be cherished, not attacked. It is to be supported regardless of its content.

Do a bunch of Nazis have the right to march through a Jewish neighborhood? As long as they have a permit, you betcha! Does an anti-choice group have the right to protest outside a Planned Parenthood? As long as they stay 50 feet away and don’t harass people, heck yeah!

Does Ryan have the right to expose the good and bad among City College faculty? Absolutely.

Why, then, is it being treated as a crime that Ryan created a Web site for students to exercise their right to free speech?

Isn’t "question authority" one of the most important anthems of youth? Wasn’t our country founded by those who dared to question authority?

Bravo to Ryan for standing up to the face of adversity and remaining strong and steady. Most importantly, kudos to Ryan for not becoming embittered by being under constant attack from instructors who are themselves bitter about having their inadequacies aired publicly.

Teacher Review has served its purpose and its users well by following its mission, which was "to help foster communication among the City College of San Francisco student body and to be a useful tool for students to use in obtaining a more rewarding educational experience. It transforms the inefficient "word of mouth" system into an online resource for current and future students.

"It is a forum where we, the students, can evaluate our instructors and read the opinions of those who have gone before us. By researching instructors before we enroll in or add a class, we can discover instructors who are conducive to our learning style without ever setting foot in a classroom."

Teacher Review is not perfect, but it is a great aid. I wish I had read it before I suffered through an astronomy class "taught" by Edwin Duckworth. He was sarcastic, rude, insensitive, egotistical and worse.

Remember to read all the notes on the site from students, because things can change over time like they have for my biology instructor, Cindy Erwin. Her current personal crisis has resulted in her poor attendance, poor organizational skills and a lackluster performance that affects students’ morale and studies.

With all the negative remarks on Teacher Review about the teachers who are suing, you’d think they’d have something more important and positive to work on instead of a lawsuit. Maybe they could work on improving their teaching skills, grading systems and treatment of students, and put their egos in check.

Teacher Review is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be censored but utilized by students every semester. Where else can you hear about great instructors like English instructor Jim Sauvé and philosophy instructor Bill Graves? It’s wonderful teachers like them who get pushed aside by all the talk of the awful ones.

Graves and Sauvé are always there for their students. They’re always willing to meet in their office to answer students’ questions and concerns.

If you don’t take them up on their offers to help, you’ll end up feeling a little guilty.

Unfortunately, it’s not every day that good teachers are so available and willing to go the extra mile for theirs students.

Students, being the wonderful, thinking, intelligent questioners of authority they are, know that freedom of speech is to be cherished, not chastised, savored, not savaged.

They also see what’s wrong with those who try to censor free speech. It doesn’t take a college education to know that censorship grows from ignorance.

It is usually in times of crisis that you find out who your friends are. Every one of us who has ever used Ryan’s site to pick a class should take a step forward to support him. He didn’t start this site to create trouble and controversy; he did it to help students.

It is students like Ryan who let our forefathers sleep soundly at night knowing that the freedoms they fought for are being vigilently defended, and things are as they should be.

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This page last updated 09/08/98.

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