At certain colleges, conservative newspapers have been trashed or shut down.

From the defacement of hundreds of issues of a conservative magazine at Tufts University to the State University of New York at Albany's decision to deny funding to a conservative newspaper, examples of political intolerance at institutions of higher learning abound across the country.

However, Bowdoin is different. During my time here as a freshman and so far this semester as a sophomore, I have encountered students and faculty with diverse beliefs and an overall willingness to listen to other points of view.

I can say that, at least within my experience, Bowdoin has been a friendly, inquisitive and tolerant place for students of all backgrounds and creeds.

It seems to me that Bowdoin has been able to maintain a level of tolerance that has been lost to some of America's other top institutions of higher education.

I use the word "tolerant" here because although different points of view are voiced, they are not necessarily "accepted."

One might listen to a fellow student's political or economic opinions, but there is little pressure to adopt those beliefs.

And nor should there be, unless one is actually convinced to change one's mind during intellectual discourse with another student or professor.

Upon coming to Bowdoin for the first time during the Bowdoin Experience as a high school student, I instantly fell in love with the campus.

But the financial aid package, friendliness and great course offerings did not tip the balance of my decision of where to go.

What made the difference were my conversations with others on campus to ensure that if I went to Bowdoin, my beliefs would be tolerated.

Although I could have gone to a university back home in Texas, where students' values would have been somewhat more in sync with my own, part of the reason I decided on Bowdoin was its different political atmosphere: it is a primarily liberal campus where popular political views greatly differ from mine.

But without ever being exposed to another set of ideals, how could I claim to firmly believe in my own?

Although I am a minority at Bowdoin in more than one way (lower-middle class, half-Anglo and half-Hispanic, a Christian, and a Libertarian), I have been pleased with my decision to attend Bowdoin.

I have met very few students who are close-minded or intolerant to a point where they are not even willing to have a respectful conversation, and unlike some other campuses, Bowdoin does not actively shun those whose beliefs break from the majority.

The professors here, in my experience, have been largely willing to tolerate different points of view and don't penalize a student simply for disagreeing with them.

Organizations such as the College Republicans and Bowdoin Christian Fellowship, although small in number, do exist on campus. These student groups have managed to hold conservatively-tinged public events, most specifically in the past year, when they hosted a senior fellow from the Heritage Foundation to discuss the national debt crisis and spearheaded the Veritas Forum, which addressed what it means to be good.

My articles on economics or politics (which do not usually comment favorably on President Obama) have been published in the Orient, whereas some other colleges have actually become restrictive of students' freedom of speech, restraining those voices which dissent from mainstream viewpoints on campus.

To stop an opposing opinion from being voiced, instead of trying to prove it wrong, is a form of attack that shows intellectual weakness. Bowdoin should be proud that it has not stooped to such a level.

I thank President Barry Mills, and those students and professors who have been willing to tolerate my views and those of others who do not always agree with the majority on campus.

So while the students and faculty can give themselves a pat on the back for maintaining a healthy amount of tolerance within the Bowdoin bubble, we must not be content to preserve the current status quo. The work of maintaining freedom of speech and a strong level of tolerance for various opinions within a college is difficult and requires constant vigilance.

Of course, more can always be done to promote diversity on campus, to encourage greater visibility of different groups, and to ensure that students are not afraid to voice controversial beliefs.

The day that a college stops permitting different views and allows the denial of free speech is the day that honest, intellectual discourse dies and that a college ceases to be an institution of higher learning. As a college dedicated to improving knowledge and seeking the truth, we must continue to tolerate the views of others, even if we disagree with those beliefs with every fiber of our being.

After all, intellectual discourse doesn't have to mean agreeing with your fellow student or professor; it just means that you have to be willing to hear them out.

John Dale Grover is a member of the Class of 2014.