Danielle Charette of The College Fix is a student at Swarthmore College. In a recent piece at the Fix, she tells the story of her attempt to screen a film about Ronald Reagan. Although the screening would be free, she met nothing but roadblocks and mockery.

At Swarthmore College, Conservative Views Not Welcome

Swarthmore College is a beautiful place, full of genuinely curious, quirky, often gifted students. But, to my knowledge, there are very few politically centrist professors–and certainly none who are openly conservative. This irked me freshman year, but I was confident I could start a campus group and earn the support of faculty, who shouted their purported “open-mindedness” from the academic buildings’ rooftops.

Back in 1890, the Quakers who founded Swarthmore entered a cantankerous discussion: Would permitting a piano on campus enhance the liberal arts or violate religious modesty? As you might guess, the pianists won out. Sadly, this looks to have been a far noisier debate than the college’s current single-minded liberalism allows.

Sure, there are protests here. Lots of them. Students regularly beat drums to the rhythm of each moment’s progressive cause: universal living wages, the Arab Spring, banning coal or even boycotting particularly “problematic” brands of hummus. These days, the problem isn’t so much the decibel level from the Left as it is the silencing of the Right.

I researched a new film about Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War and pitched it to the Peace and Conflicts Studies Department. The screening would be free. All I wanted was their co-sponsorship. With no further questions asked, nor explanations given, the department chair told me he “wasn’t interested.” Did the resolution of one of the 20th century’s gravest foreign policy challenges not warrant campus consideration? My friends and I have since joked that the department is “heavy on the peace, light on the conflict.” Mind you, this is the same department that threw its name –and financial resources–behind hosting Norman Finkelstein, the vehemently pro-Palestinian activist who accuses Israel of exploiting the “Holocaust Industry.”

Fast forward a few months. The conservative group fliers I’d designed–and paid for, since I felt guilty about using the library ink–were removed and replaced with parodies. My ads made use of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The mock ads–purposely rendered to look eerily similar to mine–featured taglines about taking away people’s housing and healthcare. Suddenly I sounded like the humanity-hating conservative cartoon college liberals imagine–because they’d replaced my words and inserted their own, imagined speech bubbles!

I notified the administration, who, to their credit, supported my right to found a conservative club. They pointed out that the students, not the faculty, were the bad actors in this episode. Technically they were right, but I’d argue that it’s the professors–in what they say, write and assign–who set the broader tone and agenda.