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My Turn, Cheryl Peevy: College is students’ ‘home’ too

In response to the comments from Lynn Kesler and Philip Bradshaw (“What online readers say about …,”  Oct. 28) regarding the Pence rally held recently at Catawba College:

1. Ms. Kesler, yes this is “our hometown” but you and many other visitors came to Catawba College for the rally. Catawba is our students’ home. Catawba hosted this rally and opened its campus to you. You were our guests. We upended our daily routine, our parking, and our grounds so that any citizen could attend this rally with minimal inconvenience.

I am sure Catawba would do the same for the other political party as well if we were asked.

You ask, “Why attend a rally if you don’t support the candidate?” Many of those who attended, including our students, were there to listen to Mr. Pence and hear the issues facing our country. Many, including students, wanted to get more information so they could make an informed decision on Election Day.

And, yes, a group of students was there to exercise the Constitutional right of freedom of speech. The students came to protest silently and, after the rally, moved to another location to sing, chant, and gather in fellowship.

Before the rally, the entire College community was reminded that one of the benefits of our college education is the willingness to be open to ideas different from our own and to exchange ideas in a civil way. The students who attended the rally were advised and supported by our administration and faculty.

The large majority of people I know that attended complimented the Catawba students for their respect of the citizens and of the candidate. I am very proud of our students for being good hosts to the community for this rally and I stand in support of their respectful display of their own beliefs.

2. Mr. Bradshaw wrote, “It is amazing we send our kids to college to get stupid.” I have been teaching at Catawba College for 30 years and, believe me, our students do not attend here to “get stupid.” Our students study a wide variety of academic programs, attend classes, do research projects, attend national and international conferences, hold positions in student government, participate in our Honors Program, win scholarships, and are accepted into graduate programs, law schools, and medical schools across the country.

No, Catawba College students don’t come here to “get stupid.” If that were the case, our faculty has been doing something terribly wrong.

Ms. Kessler referred to her “hometown.” Let me give you a brief glimpse about how our Catawba College students respect and contribute to the Salisbury community.

Every year, our student body buys enough turkeys and trimmings to feed over 20 or more families in Salisbury, attends the Harvest Ball at Trinity Oaks to celebrate and dances with the nursing home residents, builds houses for Habitat for Humanity, visits nursing homes to play checkers or music for the residents, participates in summer sport camps for local children, tutors children in the local public schools, packs Christmas shoe boxes for children, and volunteers to help adopt the homeless shelter animals.

Our students are a vital part of Salisbury while they study here and they boost our economy as they support the local stores, restaurants, and various festivals.

Catawba College welcomes all visitors to our campus. Please come again and take in a theater production, a sporting event, a community forum lecture or our awesome Lessons and Carols service in Advent. I know you will find a student body who is friendly, respectful, dedicated to its studies and active in service to our community.

Dr. Cheryl A. Peevy is a professor of modern languages at Catawba College.

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