This is an exciting time for college students. We are reconnecting with our peers after months of separation, moving into new dorms while exploring new daily routines, and encountering professors with different teaching styles and varying experiences. In these last few weeks of summer, there’s a lot of new energy in the air.

But, just as much as some things change, other things — unfortunately — seem to stay the dreary same. Vassar College, my school of choice, is known (among other things) for its liberal students and deep distrust of anything Republican. Ronald Reagan isn’t very popular in my neck of the woods. I know this, and I’ve grown accustomed to the spirited critics of conservatism that temporarily reside in Arlington, NY. It’s no good complaining about it anymore because nothing will change and it certainly didn’t come as a shock to me. I knew what I signed up for back in 2010.

And as I sit in on Political Science classes here at Vassar, I know what comes with the territory. Bias is everywhere, while objectivity and a middle ground are lofty, unattainable dreams. But some things still continue to bother me.

The snarky reaction that accompanies the mention of Mitt Romney or some other Republican candidate, for example, might very well top the list. The professor says “Romney,” like its some untouchable word in the English language, and an entire segment of the classroom (usually more than half) is engulfed by chuckling, snickering, and scoffing — it would really be an interesting social phenomenon, if I hadn’t voted for the Romney-Ryan ticket and if I didn’t consider myself to be a fiscally and socially conservative American citizen. I can handle pretty much anything else — critiques of Paul Ryan’s plan to reform entitlement spending, Mitt Romney’s tendency to waffle and bore, the stupidity of Todd Akin — and I’ve grown accustomed to the left-wing slant of my academic institution, but some things just cross the line.

Snickering at “Romney” or “Paul Ryan” or “Republicans” is flat-out disrespectful. It’s immature, detestable behavior. I have never done the same with “Obama” or “Hillary Clinton,” and I hope that I’ll never be shortsighted enough to stoop so low.

How can Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, ever hope to work together, when the mention of “Romney” — and, in other settings, “Obama” — draws sarcastic remarks and scoffing? Before a political discussion can take place, the participants must first grow up.

Bipartisanship. We hear about it everywhere, as some idealistic never-will-be in American politics. Nowadays, with trust in government dwindling, we urge our political candidates to at least hear out the other side — even if nothing concrete comes of it, reaching across the aisle is an honorable venture. And, too often, they fall short. Democrats and Republicans both fall short. But, how can bipartisanship be a viable goal when we can’t even treat our opponents with the respect that they deserve?

It really irks me, even after four semesters spent at a liberal arts college with just about liberal everything. I may have made my bed when it comes to school choice — and I’m sure that some good will come of that choice — but it doesn’t mean that I, and we, shouldn’t strive for more. When we snicker and scoff, we fail as human beings.

Bipartisanship may be the final goal, but respect goes a long way.