A University of Wisconsin-Whitewater professor is disagreeing with the opinion of a former grad student. The student thinks she’s a horrible educator, and she apparently does not.
Anthony Llewellyn posted comments and videos accusing Sally Vogl-Bauer of grading unfairly, criticizing him academically, and causing him to flunk out of school after taking a communications class with the professor. Vogl-Bauer’s attorney reports that she did ask Llewellyn to take the commentary down before filing suit, but he refused. He says that he tried to address the issues directly with the professor months before receiving a failing grade in her class, and wanted to let the public know about his experience.
While he agrees that students should have the right to voice their opinions, Vogl-Bauer’s attorney, Tim Edwards, feels that Llewellyn’s reviews were intentionally defamatory, designed specifically to damage her reputation. “Persistent defamation among one’s peers and within a small professional community can be devastating to the career of a well-respected professional such as Ms. Vogl-Bauer,” according to Edwards.
Anthony Llewellyn, obviously disagrees. He states that he merely wanted to inform the public about the way he was treated by the professor, not defame her.
It’s not uncommon for students to post reviews of their college experiences on sites like Rate My Professors these days, and many students utilize those reviews when choosing their class schedules. Just like any review site, most readers do take reviews into account when making a choice, but realize that not all reviews are completely accurate. Generally, looking at the overall tone of the ratings will give you a good idea of what to expect, but there will always be those who didn’t click well or someone who absolutely adores someone that everyone else detests.
Did Llewellyn take his reviews too far? He doesn’t think so. He feels that it is important that the content remain online, stating that “I don’t feel I’ve went too far with my videos and comments because everything posted basically communicates exactly how Sally Vogl-Bauer treated me.”
My take? Vogl-Bauer is creating a bit of a Streisand Effect here. By making a big fuss and actually suing a student, she caught the attention of not only local, but national news. Sorry teach, but everyone loves the little guy – haven’t you heard of David and Goliath? Was he over the top in his reviews? Possibly. Was he a bit obnoxious? Probably. Does anyone really care? Not likely. Chances are, Llewellyn was well within his First Amendment right to free speech, and will not have to take his reviews down. As for Vogl-Bauer, I’ve got a book she should read.