Emory stu­dent government de­nounces Chick-fil-a

De­spite op­po­si­tion, cam­pus un­likely to re­move fast food chain

GA Voice - - News - By Dyana Bagby dbagby@the­gavoice.com

Emory Univer­sity’s Stu­dent Government As­so­ci­a­tion ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion de­nounc­ing Chick-fil-A as a cam­pus ven­dor due to the fast food chain’s stands on LGBT rights.

The Dec. 2 vote was 18-3-3 and “sig­ni­fies a state­ment by SGA that they sup­port the LGBTQ com­mu­nity at Emory and en­cour­age the univer­sity to re­con­sider its re­la­tion­ship with Chick-fil-A,” ac­cord­ing to the Emory WEheel, the stu­dent news­pa­per.

At­lanta-based Chick-fil-A faced re­newed crit­i­cism ear­lier this year af­ter its pres­i­dent, Dan Cathy, made com­ments reaf­firm­ing the com­pany’s op­po­si­tion to gay mar­riage. Chick­fil-A’s non­profit foun­da­tion, the Win­shape Foun­da­tion, also funds or­ga­ni­za­tions that op­pose LGBT rights.

It is un­likely, how­ever, that univer­sity of­fi­cials will force Chick-fil-A off cam­pus.

“In the State of the Univer­sity Ad­dress, Univer­sity Pres­i­dent James W. Wag­ner stated … the Univer­sity would not en­cour­age Sodexo to re­move Chick-fil-A,” the Wheel re­ported.

In Oc­to­ber, lead­ers from seven stu­dent LGBT groups sent a let­ter to Emory ad­min­is­tra­tors de­cry­ing the on­go­ing pres­ence of Chick­fil-A on the De­catur cam­pus and ask­ing Emory, named one of the most LGBT-friendly cam­puses in the South­east, to end its “con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ship” with the fast food chain im­me­di­ately.

“This com­pany has long been a con­cern for LGBT stu­dents, fac­ulty, and alumni be­cause of its anti-gay ide­ol­ogy and ac­tiv­i­ties. What was merely a source of anx­i­ety on cam­pus in re­cent years has now es­ca­lated into an ide­o­log­i­cally po­tent sym­bol of dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­equal­ity,” reads the let­ter, dated Oct. 2 and de­liv­ered Oct. 8 to Emory Pres­i­dent James Wag­ner and Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent Ajay Nair.

In late Au­gust, mem­bers of Emory’s LGBT alumni group GALA sent let­ters op­pos­ing the re­la­tion­ship and stu­dents be­gan post­ing fly­ers in protest.

“As alumni of Emory Univer­sity, we would like to for­mally re­quest that the Chick-fil-A com­pany be re­moved from our beloved cam­pus. Chick-fil-A’s ide­ol­ogy of hate and in­tol­er­ance is not com­pat­i­ble with our Univer­sity Mis­sion State­ment,” reads an Aug. 23 let­ter sent by GALA lead­ers to Emory Pres­i­dent James Wag­ner.

The let­ter calls it “ironic” that lat­est round of con­tro­versy over Chick-fil-A oc­curred in the same year that Emory’s Of­fice of LGBT Life cel­e­bratesd its 20th an­niver­sary, alumni backed a $250,000 en­dow­ment for the of­fice, and Wag­ner him­self made an “It Gets Bet­ter” video.

“If we do noth­ing, we are just as guilty as if we had made con­tri­bu­tions to those hate groups di­rectly,” con­cludes the let­ter, signed by GALA Co-chairs Lilly Cor­rea and Ryan Roche.

In a sep­a­rate let­ter, GALA also ex­pressed con­cern that the univer­sity’s Goizueta Busi­ness School holds a manda­tory stu­dent re­treat at the Win­Shape Foun­da­tion cam­pus in Rome, Ga. Win­Shape was cre­ated by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and is the com­pany’s main ve­hi­cle for phil­an­thropic do­na­tions.

Emory of­fi­cials is­sued an ini­tial re­sponse to con­cerns about Chick-fil-A back in Au­gust, stress­ing the school’s com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity but also de­clin­ing to sever the re­la­tion­ship with the fast-food chain.

“Emory Univer­sity has a long his­tory of cre­at­ing ac­cess, in­clu­sion, and eq­uity for Emory’s gay, les­bian, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and queer stu­dents, fac­ulty, staff and alumni. Re­cent pub­lic state­ments by Dan Cathy, pres­i­dent of Chick-fil-A, do not re­flect Emory’s val­ues as an in­sti­tu­tion,” read the state­ment from Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent and Dean of Cam­pus Life Dr. Ajay Nair.

“Nev­er­the­less, free­dom of ex­pres­sion and an open ex­change of ideas are also cen­tral tenets of the Emory com­mu­nity. Emory there­fore respects the right of peo­ple to ex­press their dis­agree­ment with Mr. Cathy by not pa­tron­iz­ing Chick-fil-A,” Nair said.

Fliers like this have ap­peared on the Emory cam­pus de­nounc­ing Chick-fil-A, which is in­cluded in a cam­pus din­ing fa­cil­ity. (Photo via the Face­book group “Sup­port All Emory Stu­dents, Say No to Chick-Fil-A”)

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