Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution Friday asking for the removal of Chick-fil-A from campus.
The resolution cited donations of over $1.9 million by WinShape, the charitable arm of Chick-fil-A, to “non-profit organizations seeking to fight, ban and oppress equal rights for sexual minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.”
Student Body President Erik Zimmerman noted the university’s “We are One, We are the ‘e’” campaign when speaking in favor of the resolution.
“How can we say 'we are one' when we allow an organization that promotes hatred of others on campus?” Zimmerman said.
The resolution will now be forwarded to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Narbeth Emmanuel and Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe as an official request that Chick-fil-A be removed from campus.
“The resolution essentially lets the administration know that student government has taken a stand,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said he expects many students to initially be opposed to the measure. Student government is launching an education initiative to ensure students understand why the resolution was passed.
“We want people to know that this isn’t attacking free speech,” Zimmerman said. “It’s about the fact that they fund these organizations.”
Chick-fil-A has been in the news this week after The Civil Rights Agenda issued a press release Tuesday stating that Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno had negotiated a deal in which Chick-fil-A would no longer support anti-gay marriage causes in return for the Moreno dropping his opposition to a new Chick-fil-A in Chicago.
According to the Associated Press, Chick-fil-A never confirmed the press release issued by The Civil Rights Agenda. Subsequent releases by Chick-fil-A have not clearly stated if they will or will not continue to support anti-gay marriage groups.
Zimmerman said the resolution was necessary because it was his understanding that the university administration did not believe that there was student support to have Chick-fil-A removed.
“One of the great things about SIUE is that almost anything that happens has to be started by the students,” Zimmerman said.
Update — Sept. 22: In a written statement, Emmanuel said the resolution will be carefully reviewed and other stakeholders consulted before a decision is made.
“It is necessary and important that considerations such as our business interest — since the revenue from our Dining Services goes back to students — our legal obligations and the our moral and ethical responsibilities are considered in the process,” Emmanuel said.
In his statement, Emmanuel said he thinks the presenters at the meeting, who spoke in favor of the resolution, made compelling moral arguments, but the final decision will be made after balancing competing interests.
“We must be good stewards of student funds. We must protect the University from legal liability and, at the same time, we must be true to our values and moral obligations,” Emmanuel said.