Political notebook: Facebook page asks Catawba College to rescind Gov. McCrory’s degree

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Catawba College alumnus has started a Facebook page that demands the school rescind an honorary degree given to Gov. Pat McCrory.

Cincinnati resident and Catawba alumnus John Bromels said he started the page in response to McCrory’s signing of House Bill 2, a controversial measure passed during a recent special legislative session. The bill replaces all local ordinances with a statewide nondiscrimination law that doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity. It was primarily drafted as a means to strike down a Charlotte ordinance that included protections for the LGBT community. Among other things, the bill also prevents local governments from raising the minimum wage.

McCrory, who received his bachelor’s degree from Catawba College, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in legal letters in 2001. At the time, he was the mayor of Charlotte.

McCrory has noted that House Bill 2 wasn’t perfect. When McCrory signed House Bill 2, however, Bromels said the governor didn’t exemplify the values taught by Catawba College. Bromels specifically mentioned values on the college’s seal, which includes the words: scholarship, character, culture and service.

Bromels said McCrory used misleading statements to describe House Bill 2. Bromels specifically referred to McCrory saying the bill would keep North Carolinians safe. Those statements, Bromels said, don’t exemplify leadership or Catawba’s values. McCrory’s argument, Bromels said, avoids other significant issues contained in House Bill 2 such as preventing local governments from raising the minimum wage and barring people from suing employers for discrimination.

“I think it matters whether the person upholds those values, especially when that person has received an honorary degree,” Bromels said. “I feel as though when you confer an honorary degree on someone you expect them to exemplify the college’s values.”

As of Friday afternoon, the page had attracted 270 “likes” on Facebook. The page is named Catawba: Rescind McCrory’s Honorary Degree. 

In a statement provided to the Salisbury Post, Catawba College President Brien Lewis said several alumni and friends have contacted the school following the passage of House Bill 2. Some messages have asked the college to rescind McCrory’s honorary degree, Lewis said. The school is evaluating the requests, he said.

“To the best of our current knowledge, there has never been an instance of the college rescinding an honorary degree, nor have there been requests for the College to rescind an honorary degree,” Lewis said. “We are taking these concerns and this conversation under advisement to look at what process, if any, would be appropriate and under what situation it would be appropriate for the College to rescind an honorary degree.”

Local Democrats talk House Bill 2

Republicans are using fear-mongering tactics to arouse support for House Bill 2, said guest speakers and members of the Rowan County Democratic Party during this week’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Attendees discussed House Bill 2 after a speech by Doug Wilson, the state Democratic Party’s deputy executive director. Wilson spoke about how Democrats can win in North Carolina’s elections. He took a few questions afterward. Discussion about the controversial House Bill 2 consumed the largest portion of time after Wilson’s speech.

“If it was solely focused on bathrooms, why would all these major companies come out against it and say it’s wrong?” Wilson asked about House Bill 2.

More than 100 major companies have publicly expressed opposition to House Bill 2, which passed by a bipartisan margin in the N.C. House. It passed the N.C. Senate by a count of 32-0 after Democrats walked out in protest.

Republicans have most frequently said people, specifically men, could enter a women’s bathroom because of a sexual desire rather than gender identity.

Meeting attendees said the rhetoric follows “a pattern of fear.”

“We all cherish our children’s future,” Wilson said during the free-flowing discussion.

He joked that “Republicans fall in line and Democrats fall in love.”

In order to garner votes for Democratic candidates and policies, Wilson encouraged meeting attendees to “tell your story.” He said folks that vote against Democrats often agree with them on basic principles.

Rep. Adams states opposition to House Bill 2

Among other critics of the controversial bill was U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-12.

Adams represents a part of Rowan under the current congressional maps. Newly drawn congressional maps shift her district out of the county. In a statement released this week, Adams said it’s appalling that North Carolinians are still fighting for basic human rights.

“(House Bill 2) legalizes discrimination and strips away simple guarantees of equal treatment from the LGBT community,” She said. “I’m proud New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee, organizations and corporations in North Carolina and across the country have denounced this blatant act of discrimination. North Carolina’s governor and the Republican-controlled legislature would rather put our local economy at risk than grant law-abiding citizens equal rights.”

Gov. McCrory has accused the media of inaccurately reporting on the bill’s contents. He called it a coordinated, national campaign.

Salisbury Post reporter Rebecca Rider contributed to this story.