After a comment made by the president of Chick-fil-A stating his belief of a traditional Christian marriage, there have been no active attempts to remove the fast food chain from the Student Center.
Since the restaurant chain’s President Dan Cathy’s interview about his stance on gay rights was published July 16, sales for the restaurant have not only plummeted but the company is no longer welcome in the cities of Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Boston.
According to a report from The New York Times, many college students from universities across the country have started petitions online to get the company booted from their campus. According to an article from advocate.com, some of the schools include University of Illinois, Ball State University, Wichita State University and University of Kansas.
Lori Stettler, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary services, said while the university does not endorse the religious views of Chick-fil-A, it chooses to stay in business with the restaurant because the quality of their products.
Stettler said even in light of all the negative publicity, nobody has actively asked for the restaurant to be taken off campus.
Hannah Wagner, a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, said an official statement has been released and the company is not submitting any quotes or interviews right now.
Wednesday was Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day and advocates of the restaurant lined up all across the country to show their support for the company during these times.
In a report by the Los Angeles Times, lines were said to be “miles long’ just to get into Chick-fil-A’s across the country and people have coordinated meetups for the event. One event posted on the site meetup.com calls for people to show up and dine to ‘make a statement in favor of God’”.
However, on the website change.org, a website used to start petitions, 275 out of a 500 signatures have been given to the cause titled “Remove Hate!! Remove Chick-fil-A!!” The petition is for removal of Chick-fil-A from SIUC specifically.
The petition was started by Darcy Dunphy, a senior studying human nutrition and dietetics and former president of Saluki Rainbow Network.
Jessica Miller, an SIU graduate student, commented on the site and said she is upset about funds from the campus going to a restaurant that donates to anti-gay organizations.
“We need to have a welcoming and open climate on our campus, and that means removing businesses that promote the hatred of some of our our students — myself included,” Miller said in a comment on the website.
Stettler said even if the school wanted to remove the business from campus they would lose a considerable amount of money because Chartwells, a company dedicated to dining hall or cafeteria services within schools or universities, owns the contracts to Chick-fil-A and the contract is still in effect for six more years.
She said if the school breaks the contract in any way, such as the removal of Chick-fil-A, the school would owe money back to Chartwells.
“Chartwells spent $1.6 million renovating the food court area in the Student Center as part of the contract,” Stettler said. “If we break that contract then we will end up owing them the balance of that investment.”
Scott Schackman, president of the Saluki Rainbow Network, said in an e-mail although the school has entered a contract it can work on a mutual agreement with Chartwells to end the contract early based on financial performance of any dining unit employed by the school.
He said if the school continues to do business with Chick-fil-A it could make current and potential students question the acceptance of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender community by SIUC.
“It could be the deciding factor in accepting admission or continuing admission to the university. Our community stands for equal inclusion and acceptance of all peoples, not just GLBT, but Black, Asian, and Native American, just to name a few,” Schackman said.
Wendy Weinhold, coordinator for the GLBT Resource Center, said although she doesn’t agree with Cathy’s position, she is grateful he displayed his views to the public.
“I’m glad he told people about Chick-fil-A’s position because now I know not to spend my money there,” Weinhold said.
Stettler said the choice to do business with them should ultimately be left up to patrons of the campus.
“Our students, faculty, staff and visitors to the university will continue to personally choose which business they patronize for reasons that are reflective of their personal values,” Stettler said. “We believe that people in general vote with their pocketbooks.”
Weinhold said people involved with gay rights have a history of activism and Chick-fil-A has given all of them a reason to keep the tradition going.
“LGBT has a long history of protest and activism so this is really an exciting opportunity to exercise those rights,” Weinhold said.
Seth Lesemann, a junior from Havana studying cinema and photography, said workers in the Student Center and other chain locations shouldn’t be punished.
“I don’t agree with the way he thinks at all and I really think it’s kind of ignorant, but at the same time us removing the restaurant from our Student Center is not going to keep him from thinking that way,” Lesemann said. “All it’s going to do is get a whole bunch of people fired and make them have to find a new job.”