Campus Pride Blog

Campus Pride warns colleges on responding to Chick-fil-A controversy and suggests three things to protect a safe campus learning environment in issuing a response

CP.clr__0_0_1.pngCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Campus Pride, the leading national nonprofit for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and ally college students, issued two statements last week condemning Chick-fil-A for their funding of documented anti-gay hate groups and calling on colleges and universities to disassociate with the national brand in university-associated dining services, sponsored sporting events and corporate donations.

According to Campus Pride, this past week a number of colleges and universities quickly distanced themselves from the statements of Chick-fil-A's founder Dan Cathy, whose views are counter to inclusion, safety and diversity within higher education. Nevertheless, Campus Pride cautions that colleges need to be wary of simply justifying “business as usual” with Chick-fil-A and saying that Cathy has a right to freedom of speech.

“The real issue at hand is that the Chick-fil-A corporation funds documented anti-gay hate groups. Campuses have every right to deny doing business with a food vendor, especially vendors that create a divisive, potentially unsafe learning environment. There is no justification for a business operating on campus that directly funds hate group activity toward a population of students represented within the campus community,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride.

In 2010 the Southern Poverty Law Center determined that the Family Research Council, which receives funding by Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation, is a documented hate group alongside others like the Aryan Nation, Ku Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church. Campus Pride strongly suggests the presence of a food vendor on campus like Chick-fil-A, which funds hate groups with profits, has a serious implication for campus safety and creating a welcoming climate for student learning. A 2010 national research study by Campus Pride shows that nearly a quarter of LGB students encounter harassment on their college campuses and an even greater percentage of LGBT students fear for their physical safety on campus.

“Every college is responsible for providing a safe, welcoming learning environment for all students. Simply telling students ‘not to buy the sandwich’ does not account for the safety and campus climate for LGBT students. In reality, it pits students against one another, creates a divisive campus culture and negative perceptions that will impede safety. If this was just about the company's views, that would be different. But it's not; it's about Chick-fil-A donating from its profits to anti-gay, documented hate groups,” Windmeyer said.

Campus Pride asks that college administrators consider these three things in issuing a response to Chick-fil-A being on campus, as follows:

1. ADMONISH CHICK-FIL-A & THE VIEWS OF PRESIDENT OF CHICK-FIL-A
Distance the college/university from the Chick-fil-A brand and the views of the President. Say that the President of Chick-fil-A has the freedom to express what he believes and the right to donate to any cause, including anti-gay hate groups. But the college/university also has the right to express its views, and should state that it strongly disagrees with Chick-fil-A's stance and furthermore stands opposed to the fact that they use corportate profits to donate to anti-gay causes and documented hate groups.

2. STAND BY YOUR POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION & COMMITMENT TO A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT THAT EMBRACES DIVERSITY AND VALUES ALL OF ITS MEMBERS
Unequivocally state that your campus nondiscrimination statement is there to protect your community from discrimination and that a safe learning environment for all students is always the top priority for the campus. All companies, vendors and contracts with the college/university will be held accountable to the nondiscrimination policy in terms of how it treats workers and customers.

3. KICKING CHICK-FIL-A OFF CAMPUS & FUTURE CONSIDERATION OF FOOD SERVICE CONTRACTS
Express that Chick-fil-A and other dining choices are always being considered, chosen by students for various interests, and food choices on campus are always an ongoing conversation. Depending on whether your food service provider is Sodexo, Chartwells or Aramark, the campus can choose various options for dining vendors. All matters will be considered when it comes to campus policies, students needs and interests on campus.

For more information on Chick-fil-A's donating to hate groups and anti-gay causes, read the “Five Simple Facts about Chick-fil-A” and go online to www.CampusPride.org/ChickfilA. If your campus needs assistance or has questions, please contact Campus Pride by email at info@campuspride.org or call 704-277-6710.