So many firsts

Yesterday the Guilford College community burst into celebration as the next President of the College, Dr. Jane Fernandes, was announced. After an inclusive and exceptionally open search effort, the campus community and far-flung alumni were anxious to know who would be living in Ragsdale House in July.

Jane FernandesJane will be Guilford’s first woman President, our ninth to serve  the campus since the College was chartered in 1837. She will join the Guilford community as we celebrate the 40th year of Women’s Studies on campus.

Much is being made of our first female President, and rightly so. Guilford isn’t immune to the common barriers in higher education.

The second sentence of the College’s long-awaited announcement read, “Jane, who is deaf, will become the first woman to hold the post on July 1 when she succeeds Kent Chabotar.”

Twitter and Facebook echoed with “It’s a woman and she’s deaf.”

Both firsts. Her gender and her deafness have surely shaped her experiences and ideas, all making her Jane Fernandes, Guilford’s ninth President.

When Guilford’s current President was announced 12 years ago, it was noteworthy that Kent would be the first non-Quaker to lead the College. I don’t remember anyone saying “and he’s single and he has no children.” Those were firsts too.

There have been many good firsts since Kent took up residence at Ragsdale House, and I am grateful.

Welcome, Jane. I am one of many holding you in The Light as you begin your many firsts at Guilford.




When a tax credit becomes a poll tax

The North Carolina Legislature’s slash and burn budget includes eliminating a $2,500 tax credit for families with college students by tying it to voter registration. SB 667 will require college students to vote at home if their parents claim them as a dependent and receive a $2,500 state tax credit. Students who register to vote where they attend college will also be required to move their vehicle registration 60 days prior to voting.

Connecting college tuition tax credits to where a college student votes and pays taxes on their vehicle sure does seem like a poll tax to me. Why would the Republican controlled North Carolina Legislature want to do this? Could it be because counties with heavy student populations where students traditionally vote Democratic (think Appalachian and Chapel Hill) could see students turn out in heavy numbers and threaten Republican control of state and Congressional seats? Is this a back door effort for legislators to add tax dollars to some counties via car taxes while taking it from others? Nope. It is a poorly veiled effort to control what would be legal student voting via a family’s checkbook.

Fortunately thousands have packed Halifax Mall outside the state legislature on Mondays to shine a bright light on the efforts to roll the clock back decades, if not centuries. Doctors in their white coats, faith leaders in vestments, teachers, retirees, attorneys, and hundreds of other tax paying, voting citizens have come forward to be arrested.

Wake County law enforcement officials went to work today knowing today is Moral Monday 12. Come rain or shine, the citizens will be there to peacefully demonstrate for a state that values equality, fair pay for teachers, Voting Rights, clean water and air, and a woman’s right to make her own health decisions.