Imagine a delicious chicken sandwich. Imagine the weight of it in your hands, the savory flavors of the bun and patty, the mouth feel.
Now imagine that sandwich taking a hard-line stance against gay marriage and bankrolling gay conversion therapy.
Suddenly, it’s not so delicious. It’s too homophobic to eat now. It is a gross sandwich.
Chick-fil-A Inc. collects a profit based on the performance of their individual locations, including the on-campus restaurant. This location also carries the benefit of mandatory meal plans for first-year studtents aiding the costs of business.
According to a PDF created by Dining Services, 60 percent of these meal plans are put toward Dining Services’ operational costs, including the on-campus Chick-fil-A.
Students living in these residence halls have no say regarding how this portion of the money is spent.
Chick-fil-A’s reputation for speaking out against LGBTQ causes such as gay marriage is too prevalent to be ignored. The company also has a long history of donating millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ causes, including the Family Research Council, which Southern Poverty Law Center has declared an anti-LGBT hate group, as well as now-defunct conversion therapy group Exodus International.
Chick-fil-A’s recent donations continue to include organizations known to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, whose staff and student leaders must sign a sexual purity statement forbidding them from engaging in “homosexual acts,” even within the context of a marriage.
Chick-fil-A does not offer employees any protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination beyond what is legally required. In most states, this means no protections at all.
The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index lists a score of zero for Chick-fil-A’s employee policies and protections, compared to a score of 95 for competitor Burger King and a perfect score of 100 for competitor McDonald’s.
An inclusive campus environment where students are able to feel welcome and comfortable is more important than profits or sandwich options.
SIUE’s stated values seem to reinforce this notion, citing “social, civic and political responsibility,” and “accountability to those we serve” and “a welcoming and supportive environment,” with no mention of chicken sandwiches.
Yet for many students, this does not reflect the campus environment at all. SIUE cannot realize this vision for many LGBTQ students and staff or their allies while forcing them to support organizations that undermine their own interests.
Considering the on-campus branch of Chick-fil-A has recently been approved for remodeling, it is safe to say the university is invested in their continued affiliation with the franchise.
This decision indicates a choice to continue the inconsistency between their stated values and business practices.