A group of University of Kansas faculty members is calling for the removal of Chick-fil-A from their campus, saying the popular restaurant is a “bastion of bigotry” and that it makes some students feel less safe.
The university has housed a Chick-fil-A in the basement of the university’s Wescoe Hall for 15 years, but this year it moved to a more prominent location: in the student union, which receives far more foot traffic, according to the Kansas City Star. Additionally, the chain now has a larger role at university football games, too, with the coin toss now labeled the “Chick-fil-A Coin Toss.”
The Sexuality & Gender Diversity Faculty and Staff Council sent a letter last week to the chancellor, provost and university community, demanding action against the chain. Chick-fil-A is the United States’ third-largest fast food-chain in sales. It also was voted America’s favorite fast-food restaurant in a recent survey of consumers.
“KU granted Chick-fil-A, a bastion of bigotry, a prime retail location in the heart of our campus. The Union houses spaces that the KU community designates as safe and accepting – not least of which are the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity,” the letter says. “... The Union was one of the first places on campus to incorporate gender-inclusive bathrooms for the comfort and validation of the experiences and range of identities of the people who walk our halls. The arrival of Chick-fil-A in this building is insulting, counterproductive, and unacceptable,” the letter reads.
The letter cites past comments by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy supporting the biblical definition of marriage. It also mentions the company’s donations to certain groups.
“While many Christians are supportive of the LGBTQ community and many are members themselves, the culture of Chick-fil-A fosters hate and discrimination on multiple levels,” the letter says. “In short, Chick-Fil-A on KU’s campus stands in direct contrast to the university’s mission of fostering a multicultural, inclusive environment.
“... Moving Chick-Fil-A to the Union and granting it a role at the start of all home football games violates the feelings of safety and inclusion that so many of us have striven to create, foster, and protect on campus, and sends a message that the Union, KU Athletics, and the administration at large are more concerned about money and corporate sponsorship than the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of marginalized and LGBTQ people.”
The letter urges students to boycott the restaurant. It also says contracts with Chick-fil-A should not be renewed.
Associate professor Katie Batza, who is president of the council, told the Star that the letter represents hundreds of faculty members, staff and students who “are very upset about this.” The council has about 30 members.
Meanwhile, the University of Kansas College Republicans launched a pro-Chick-fil-A petition to “tell our university administration that our community wants Chick-fil-A on this campus.”
Chick-fil-A’s official corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.