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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

NOW president speaks at Guilford

NOW president Kim Gandy speaks to a crowd of demonstrators from the steps of Dana auditorium ()
NOW president Kim Gandy speaks to a crowd of demonstrators from the steps of Dana auditorium ()

“Not negotiable!” 50 demonstrators yelled. They were replying to President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Kim Gandy. Her prompt: what they thought about the equality of all people, protection against domestic violence, abortion rights and equal pay for women in the workplace.

Future Guilford-chapter NOW President and sophomore Rachael Marks, with the help of Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Kathryn Schmidt, arranged for Gandy to come to Guilford. On March 24 she spoke about the history of the women’s rights movement and participate in a pre-speech rally.

“It was really simple. First I e-mailed Kim Gandy to come speak to Guilford,” said Marks. “She responded with enthusiasm and came (here) free of charge.”

“It was an honor to come to Guilford College,” said Gandy via e-mail. “I forgot to mention (in the speech) that my husband, Kip Lornell, went to Guilford. He lived in Milner hall and was the station manager for WQFS.”

The demonstration began at 5 p.m. in front of Dana auditorium with Gandy speaking briefly to the crowd about reproductive rights.

Participants marched to the corner of Friendly Ave. and Guilford College Rd holding pro-choice and pro-equality signs. First-year Katie Yow led the group in chants like: “Gay, straight, black, white. Marriage is a civil right,” and “Keep abortion legal.”

“I think the rally had a lot of great energy,” said Schmidt. “Katie Yow was going wild. She was so enthusiastic.”

“The rally was awesome, and I especially enjoyed talking with the women who are starting the Guilford NOW Chapter,” said Gandy. “There are so many issues to work on, and so many threats to our rights, that it will take every one of us working together to prevail.”

“I was really excited that on a Thursday night we got that many people to come,” said Yow. “It was a pretty big number, especially compared to the size of the campus in general.”

Several cars showed their support by honking, while some drivers made obscene gestures.

“What struck me more than the dirty old men waving their middle fingers were the women in the cars shaking their heads at us,” said senior Rosie Sipe.

“It’s unfortunate to think that people don’t automatically agree with us,” said Marks. “Seeing people who disagree, it’s sad but exciting to think that we can change their perspective.”

At 6 p.m. the demonstrators returned to Dana auditorium to hear Gandy speak.

Gandy began by describing her childhood in the South. Originally from Louisiana, she lived a sheltered life until college, taking women’s freedom for granted. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 1973 and spoke about how there was an 8 p.m. curfew for women, but none at all for men.

She said it aggravated her that the reasoning behind the curfew was safety. The college insisted that women were at a high risk for sexual assault, so they must be protected and in the dorms by 8 p.m.

Another step toward participating in the growing women’s right movement came after Gandy married Christopher “Kip” Lornell, ’77. When they both applied for company benefits from their jobs at South Central Bell, Gandy was forced to get her husband’s permission and signature before receiving benefits. When she asked her employer about this, he responded by saying that her husband owned all her assets and the company required his permission before subtracting a small percent of the paycheck to benefits, under the “Head and Master Law.”

This both angered Gandy and inspired her to become involved in the fight for women’s rights. She joined forces with the local NOW chapter and worked hard to ensure that all her assets went under her name. Seven years later, Gandy and NOW eliminated the “Head and Master Law” in Louisiana.

Being involved with NOW taught Gandy how to set up press conferences, organize rallies, write public statements, and take action. It also showed her that: “a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world,” said Gandy.

In 1991 Gandy began a nine-month-long project to multiply the number of women in public office. WomenElect 2000 was successful in increasing the female vote and defeating former Klan member David Duke for governor.

During this time Gandy helped in drafting the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (giving women the right to a jury and monetary compensation in cases of sexual assault and gender discrimination) and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (decreasing the daily violence that occurs at abortion clinics).

Gandy has been a part of NOW for 30 years. She emphasized that women today have unthinkable options compared with past generations. However, the fight is not over.

NOW aims at ending hate crimes, racism, and sex discrimination. It aspires to secure reproductive rights and health care for all people.

The Gandy’s speech at Guilford also included the importance of electing women to positions of power. Right now, women only make up 14 percent of Congress and 16 percent of state governors. She encouraged the young women in the audience to get involved early and change these percentages.

Gandy also stressed the importance of reproductive rights. Under the Clinton Administration, women in the military were granted the right to abortion, even in countries like Saudi Arabia where abortions were illegal. However, instead of covering an abortion with the military health care plans, the woman had to pay out of her own pocket – even though the health care covered full cosmetic surgeries for men.

The Bush Administration since changed the law. Now there are no abortions on any military base, even in instances of rape.

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