A UH architecture junior passed the 75 percent mark Saturday in his goal for signatures on his online petition to cease operation of on-campus branches of Chick-fil-A.
Thomas Heinold made the petition in response to Chick-fil-A Chief Operating Officer Daniel Cathy’s highly publicized statements about gay marriage.
“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” Cathy said on a radio show in mid-July. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”
Heinold is going for at least 2,000 signatures from UH students, alumni and faculty members. As of Saturday, the petition has been signed by nearly 1,600 people.
“This is our campus and we have a say in what is placed here. Please help to remove Chick-fil-a from our campus. To further more boycott Chick-fil-a stop buying their products on campus. If the University won’t voluntarily remove them, we can by depleting their sales and forcing them off the Campus,” the petition says.
John Courter, an openly gay hotel and restaurant management junior, agrees with Heinold’s petition.
“I have boycotted Chick-fil-A way before this event happened. Why give money to a company where all of it members are against gay rights?” Courter said. “To all the homophobes out there, gay people are everywhere, and many people need to get that.”
However, the UH community remains split on the issue. Contrary to Courter, Collin Hannah, a civil engineering sophomore, feels that Chick-fil-A has a right to be on campus.
“I am personally a huge advocate for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights. However, I believe that freedom of speech needs to be extended to even the most radical hate groups,” Hannah said. “The beauty of freedom of speech means that you can criticize that opinion as much as you want to. You can not associate yourself with that person. We don’t have the right to say that Chick-fil-A cannot exist on campus, only consumers do. If you don’t like what Chick-fil-A is saying, then you don’t have to eat there, but you don’t have the right to take that away from everyone else.”
Economics senior Diego Cervantes said Chick-Fil-A is protected under speech, but so are those who disagree with Chick-Fil-A’s views.
“The (COO) is free to express himself in accordance with the First Amendment,” Cervantes said. “Their opinion may be unpopular, but they’re within their rights to express their views as they see fit, whether through words or funding political causes and campaigns. Hypothetically speaking, I may choose not to eat there because of their views … Just as they as a company has a right to free speech, I have the same rights as a consumer and support businesses that share my beliefs.”
While many will chose not to eat at the restaurant, petroleum engineering sophomore Analicia Caylor says she thinks Chick-fil-A has and will remain relatively untouched.
“Lots of people enjoyed Chick-Fil-A before the controversy, and lots of people will continue to enjoy Chick-fil-A after the controversy,” Caylor said. “Besides, if you went to Chick-fil-A on any given day last semester at the Satellite, the line was always long.”