Fast food chain Chick-fil-A has been in a hot seat of controversy due to remarks about gay marriage spoken by the company’s president. As expected, backlash from the public ensued and some college students are particularly enraged, as the restaurant has locations on many college campuses.
An online Southern Baptist publication quoted Chick Fil A president Dan Cathy, whose family owns the popular chicken chain, as “endorsing the biblical definition of the family unit,” or that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Even though the Cathy family has always made their religious beliefs public, as the New York Times pointed out—the chain is even closed on Sundays—politicians, preachers and other protesters instantly took sides in the sudden Chick-fil-A gay marriage controversy. To add fuel to the fire, the chain makes donations to advocacy groups that also denounce same-sex marriage.
The issue hit home with many college students across the country, including those at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota Daily reported that students, faculty and staff began a petition to remove Chick-fil-A from the school food court despite the fact that it is one of the most popular dining establishments on campus. It garnered over 1,200 signatures in the first week alone. “The U has a standpoint on diversity,” one student reasoned. “This restaurant doesn’t stand behind it.”
Other college and university students soon followed suit, creating similar petitions on change.org. These include “New York University: Stop serving anti-gay Chick-fil-A on campus,” “VCU Health System: Give Chick-fil-A the Boot” and “University of Florida: Don’t support anti-gay Chick-fil-A” among many others.
Students—and the general public—have also taken social media by storm, offering their opinion on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Mayors in large cities including Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. also spoke out against the chicken chain in an effort to advocate for LGBT rights, reported Huff Post College.
Many people have decided to boycott the restaurant due to the owners’ public beliefs and gay rights activists even planned a “Same-Sex Kiss In” day in response to an unofficial Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day recommended by former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The media reports that people lined up around the building at many free-standing Chick-fil-A restaurants and indoor food court locations were just as packed. It seems the Kiss-In did not generate that much support, causing some to wonder if activists have lost the battle.
College student boycotting is nothing new, but will college students succeed in their protests against the restaurant? Only time will tell. According to Inside Higher Ed, students have already protested college food-services giant Sodexo—one of the major campus food providers that contracts with Chick-fil-A—due to worker’s rights and union stifling accusations.
“Students feel a sense of ownership over, or citizenship in, the campus. They don’t see themselves as consumers of a product who are going to the campus…. They’re responding out of that sense of community, that sense of obligation,” explained student activism historian and Angus Johnston, who is also an adjunct professor at City University of New York’s Hostos Community College.
And Chick-fil-A’s stance on the whole ordeal?
“The Chick-fil-A culture and 66-year-old service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. Our goal is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A,” according to an official company statement.
Image Source: www.Chick-Fil-A.com
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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