★ A Tolerant Campus? Hardly.

Even after three years in the wild green yonder that is Vermont, I am constantly amazed just how blatantly disrespectful intelligent people can be if given the opportunity. On what is supposed to be a tolerant campus where people of all beliefs can coexist in harmony, conservatives remain a persecuted minority. Tremendous social pressures force conservatives to conceal our views for fear of alienating an already-hostile community, reducing the so-called open diversity Middlebury prides itself on to the spread between Barack Obama liberals and Hillary Clinton liberals. The pressure on conservatives to remain silent is ever-present and all-encompassing. Just as students begin casual conversations with, "You've got to admit Sarah Palin is an idiot," so too do distinguished professors lecture students on the terrifying dangers of Christianity in America. Discussions and debates are nonexistent; most conservatives are too uncomfortable to talk about politics, and those who try to are inevitably shouted down by an irrationally hostile crowd of four or more - an amateur thought-police determined to crush dissent, lest someone challenge their notion that pacifism, higher taxes, and moral relativism are the ideal tools for building a better world.

These are the people whose targets are never policies and always people. They don't dislike Sarah Palin because of her conservatism. They dislike her because they've decided that she is "an idiot." They welcome radical Muslims with open arms and insist that they are misunderstood, but are terrified of American Christians because "they're so strange." They refuse to argue points on merit, instead demanding an acknowledgment of their righteousness before they'll even have a discussion. And if you don't acknowledge it, they shout until you just don't care anymore.

As a result, intelligent voices go unheard. Middlebury is deprived of an intellectual perspective that could give legitimacy to the campus's pledge of tolerance. And we're left with a school where everyone who speaks out on any issue looks different but says the same thing. Is this diversity? Of course not. It's a disgrace.