By Angela Romansky
The first time it happened was in 2003 at Harvard when Mark Zuckerberg created “Facemash” to rate the young ladies of the Ivy League school. He then went on to create Facebook. Nine years later, two Rider students have tried their own luck at creating an Internet phenomenon.
Early on Oct. 22, some students logged onto Facebook and found the popular topic of conversation to be raterider.com. This website allowed users to browse through dueling pictures of female Rider students and rate them based on their physical appearance.
“I saw a girl post about it in the Rider class page and I was like, ‘What is this?’” said Kate Cameron, a sophomore dance major. “I found my picture on it and freaked out.”
The administration was able to block the site from all Rider servers on the morning of Oct. 23, according to an email sent out by President Rozanski. By that evening, two students had stepped forward, admitted to creating the site and voluntarily taken it down.
“We worked with legal counsel and our Office of Information Technology to block access to the website from university servers,” Dean of Students Anthony Campbell said. “We also sought assistance from our university community to determine the website’s registrant so that we could pursue appropriate further action under our Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy and the Student Code of Conduct.”
Raterider.com displayed two pictures side by side. The objective was for users to click on whichever girl they deemed more attractive in order to see the next two pictures. A total number of “wins,” “losses” and “expected ratings” were then calculated and shown beneath each picture.
Under Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments of 1972, Rider has a legal obligation to maintain a harassment-free, non-hostile environment for all members of its community.
“It was our obligation to take immediate and appropriate steps to address the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects on our women students,” Campbell said. “Our actions were also consistent with our core values as a community as reflected in our university mission and Statement of Community Values.”
Federal law prohibits the university from releasing the names of the students who confessed, as well as their pending punishment, according to Campbell.
As news about the site spread through campus, many students, especially females, were appalled.
“I kept checking the site to make sure my picture wasn’t up there,” junior radio and TV major Diana Gebbia said. “I think this is awful. As a person who has struggled with self-image, this website brings back painful memories. It is hard enough to look at the mirror and to be unhappy with what you see, but to have a website serve as a reminder that you’re not perfect? That’s even worse.”
According to a local computer technician and Rider parent who wished to remain anonymous, the site was programmed to only display women from the classes of 2015 and 2016 in Rider’s Facebook network. It also filtered through relationship statuses and profile pictures to weed out women who are openly “in a relationship,” according to Facebook, and those who have someone else in their profile picture with them. In some cases, the site was able to locate older profile pictures as well.
Students seem to want to know exactly why the website was created, especially those who were featured on the site.
“I’m on the site and it’s not so much that I feel like it’s creepy or degrading because the pictures on it seem to be pictures that are already on Facebook.” Ashley Arizini, a sophomore radio and TV major said. “I just want to know what causes someone to take the time out of their day to create something ridiculous like this.”
Sophomore marketing major Kara Schwartz agreed.
“I don’t think it’s fair to rate women on the way they look,” she said. “Everyone is beautiful inside and out. Rating ‘who’s hotter’ is just degrading. Life isn’t about looks.”