Last week, Northeastern University’s Student Senate voted to halt plans to include a Chick-fil-A location on campus because of their donations to anti-gay organizations.
Spokeswoman for the college Renata Nyul said the university is happy with the outcome. “We are proud of the decision that affirms our university’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all,” she said.
Similar petitions and requests have been popping up at colleges all across the country. NYU students obtained over 10,000 signatures to ban Chick-fil-A from campus. Ultimately the student government elected to allow the location, largely because — as with UH — the university does not have a direct relationship with the restaurant organization, but with Aramark instead.
These students are angry because over the last few years, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, The Winshape Foundation, has donated millions of dollars to groups like Exodus International, Focus on the Family, The National Organization for Marriage and the Pennsylvania Family Institute.
All of these organizations support anti-gay causes. Exodus International is an “ex-gay” organization that promotes treatments to “cure” homosexuality, largely by reinforcing gender stereotypes. Focus on the Family is infamous as well. Founder James Dobson has claimed in the past that “Same-sex relationships undermine the future generation’s understanding of the fundamental principles of marriage, parenthood and gender.” The National Organization for Marriage and the Pennsylvania Family Institute both seek to pass a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Anyone who has craved a chicken sandwich on a Sunday already knows that the owners of Chick-fil-A are conservative Christians. They are closed on Sundays and include the phrase “to glorify God” in their mission statement. However, Christianity is by no means synonymous with homophobia.
There are many Christian organizations that support gay rights, but Chick-fil-A donates to none of them. The affiliated Winshape Foundation has co-hosted conferences with same-sex marriage opponents. The Foundation’s retreat center does not allow homosexuals. Potential hires at Chick-fil-A are required to divulge their marital status and religious beliefs before they can even be considered for employment.
The restaurant chain has had little to say on the matter. “We’re a restaurant that has a hospitality that says we’re here to embrace everyone who wants to come and be part of Chick-fil-A,” Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy claims, “So to be identified with some sort of hate group that has a political agenda — that is not Chick-fil-A at all.” But how can Cathy not think he would be identified with groups to which he gave millions of dollars? He would still like to have the business of the LGBT community but, “At the same time, we will continue to offer resources to strengthen marriages and families.’’ We all know what this is code for.
It seems apparent that the owners and operators of Chick-fil-A have an anti-gay agenda — but does that mean that Chick-fil-A restaurants should be removed from college campuses? That depends on the campus. Petitions and student government actions have their place and can act to a certain extent, but, as seen with NYU, they do not always have the power to remove a popular restaurant from campus. You can take a stand for gay rights on your own.
The University has many inexpensive and healthy options that lack the stigma of bigotry. If you support marriage equality — stop eating at Chick-fil-A.
A vote with your wallet will be worth as much, if not more, than SGA action.
Emily Brooks is an economics senior and may be reached at email@example.com.