A Smith College student is disgusted by the oppressive antics of her fellow Leftists

Sounds like she is a REAL idealist. She'll end up a GOP voter. Smith College is a private liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts. A highly selective institution with an undergraduate enrollment on campus of 2,500

I recently found my application essay for Smith from back in high school when I was applying to colleges. In response to the question, "Why did you choose to apply to Smith College?" I wrote, "I have a fervent interest in social justice. Your focus on instilling a spirit of diversity, acceptance and social responsibility excites me. The atmosphere of your school is welcoming. It is a place where intellectually curious young women can be fully challenged."

Last week, I attended the Hot Seat debate on the topic of whether the "Vagina Monologues" was empowering or demeaning. I came because I was interested in hearing both sides of the argument and I assumed other people were as well, regardless of their personal views about the play. The room was almost completely full, with people standing along walls even though new rows of chairs had been added in the back. From overheard conversation, I gathered the impression that most people were supportive of the "Vagina Monologues," but I still, assumed that they had come to be an attentive audience. After all, if you don't want to hear any criticism about the "Vagina Monologues," you can go to see the play or have discussions with like-minded friends. Why would you go to listen to a debate if you have an enormous opposition to hearing both sides?

So you can listen to your side attack the other, apparently, and so you can be rude from the anonymous comfort of your seat. While the debaters opposed to the "Vagina Monologues" managed to keep their points related to the text of the play and its possible influences, the debaters involved with the production of the "Vagina Monologues" accused the other side of "parroting" a Web site that they cited in their arguments. It was, no question about it, a low shot. In one word, they managed to communicate: "Not only are you wrong when you disagree with us, but you are incapable of forming your own opinions. We have our own opinions. We are better, and smarter, than you."

Never mind that a more disrespectful opposition might have, in response, accused them of "parroting" Eve Ensler and others involved in the formation of the "Vagina Monologues." I think they were pretty sure that the other side would not do that, and that if they did, they would be disparaged by the vast majority of the audience. How would the debaters from the "Vagina Monologues" know that the audience was on their side? Because the audience was seemingly incapable of silencing their scorn and contempt for those arguing that the Vagina Monologues are misguided feminism gone awry. While they managed to refrain from shouting, they constantly spoke in contemptuous tones, burst into conversation after everything the opposing side said and yet were miraculously quiet when it was their side's turn to take the microphone. Perhaps they misunderstood their role: in a debate, the debaters on stage are the ones invited to talk and express their thoughts. The audience consists of those invited to listen, and to later express their own thoughts during the question-and-answer portion of the event.

All this sadly confirms what I have noticed in my one and a half years at Smith College: Respect and diversity are very important qualities to the student body, as long as the people who want respect are on their side, and as long as their diversity does not include the diversity of opinion. Are you black, Asian, blind, gay or someone who speaks English as a second language? You'll be welcomed to Smith, which is how it should be. Do you think that modern feminism has gone a little overboard in recent years, that a fetus with a beating heart is a human life or that George W. Bush has ever said one single sentence that expressed a good thought? You'll be outwardly despised, your classmates will automatically assume that based on your belief in one area you hold an entire set of beliefs that may not accurately represent what you think and any signs you put up on campus - in places approved by the college - will mysteriously disappear. This is not how it should be.

I have a twofold theory as to the blatant disrespect on campus, though I'm not sure how accurate it is. The first part is that disrespectful people see their rudeness as "expressing their beliefs". Expressing your beliefs is fine. It's when you don't let other people express their beliefs, or when you denounce their intelligence for doing so, that the problem comes in. The second part is that, in the minds of some students, the opposition are not full people. They are Representative of What's Wrong With the World.

Actually, they embody the purpose of education: to think for yourself.



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