Middlebury Shouts Down Charles Murray

Here’s why they’ll live to regret it.

It’s been exactly 40 years since my late wife and I quit as English profs at Middlebury College, where hundreds of screaming students wouldn’t allow Charles Murray, one of the nation’s foremost conservative intellectuals, to speak to them yesterday, as a campus conservative group had invited him to do. Like everything else in America, no doubt much has changed at the now-trendy college, nestled in Vermont’s maple-clad mountains, in four decades. Back in the 1970s, the Arab-launched oil crisis forced school officials to choose between shutting off the electricity to the library or to the school’s private ski lift. After a student referendum, the library went dark. In those days, too, the dorms had just become co-ed, and a woman dean bemusedly told my wife about an epidemic of impotence sweeping the campus. Did the boys think of their girl dorm-mates as their sisters, and thus off-limits, she wondered; or had the glamor and mystique just vanished after they’d just seen them one time too many in curlers, face cream, and rumpled pajamas?