Several faculty members at the University of Kansas are pushing administrators to ban Chick-fil-A from campus, arguing its presence violates the “safety” and “mental well-being” of students and staff – and citing the franchise’s Christian values.
Despite the open declaration by the third-largest fast-food franchise in America to welcome and serve all members of the community, key faculty influencers on campus professing social justice values of inclusion are demanding that Chick-fil-A not be allowed to remain on campus.
“The faculty council, filled with ‘extreme frustration,’ wants America’s favorite restaurant removed from campus for being a ‘bastion of bigotry’ after KU administrators relocated a Chick-fil-A from a basement to ‘prime real estate’ on campus to the Memorial Union,” Fox News reported. “But worse yet, to the council, is the ‘Chick-fil-A Coin Toss’ at the start of the Jayhawks' football home games.”
Who’s the bigot?
In a letter to KU’s chancellor, provost, a leading professor, and members of the school’s community, the pro-LGBTQ staff is calling for Chick-fil-A’s diminished presence on campus in the name of so-called “inclusion.”
“We – members of the Sexuality & Gender Diversity Faculty and Staff Council – write to express our extreme frustration at the University’s moves over the summer to deepen its relationship with Chick-fil-A,” the letter reads. “In the Spring, we spoke out to denounce the decision to relocate the business, which has a history of supporting organizations that are hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, families and communities.”
The council proceeded to single out Exodus International for supporting conversion therapy, and Family Research Council for being designated by the scandal-plagued Southern Poverty Law Center as being a “hate group” toward LGBTQ individuals.
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s support for “the biblical definition of the family unit” and insistence that “[w]e are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” were also included in the faculty’s argument as testimony that a chain espousing such views should not be welcomed on campus.
They claim they are “outraged” with university officials’ growing relationship with Chick-fil-A – which they called a “bastion of bigotry,” arguing its very presence threatens the school’s mission of fostering a multicultural, inclusive environment that is “safe and accepting” and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion.
The faculty does not want Chick-fil-A to operate in a building it has declared a symbol of victory for LGBTQ rights, as campus funds went into building transgender restrooms there – facilities many argue threaten vulnerable women and children by making them easy prey for sexual predators claiming to be the opposite sex.
“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 letter continued. “The arrival of Chick-fil-A in this building is insulting, counterproductive and unacceptable.”
KU’s Sexuality & Gender Diversity Faculty and Staff Council ends its written plea with a call for the university to sever its partnership with Chick-fil-A and only do business with those that embrace and promote the LGBTQ agenda.
“We beseech you to rectify this situation immediately, promoting inclusion and equity instead of hatred and intolerance,” the council pleads. “At the very least, we demand a guarantee from the Chancellor, KU Athletics and the Provost that these contracts will not be renewed once expired. We also insist that KU make the process by which it chooses its on-campus vendors more transparent, principled and inclusive of representatives of the larger KU community.”
In addition, a call to not do business with Chick-fil-A – similar to the pro-Palestinian campus BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanction) movement to not purchase Israeli goods – was included, along with advice to choose pro-LGBTQ businesses instead of Christian ones.
“[W]e will urge our members and allies to speak with our dollars – as well as our words – and boycott the restaurant,” the letter concludes. “We look forward to educating the larger KU community about Chick-fil-A and working with KU to find a replacement vendor that better reflects our KU values.”
Our way or the highway
As American universities champion themselves as being a “marketplace of ideas,” KU faculty is attempting to limit those ideas to ones that fall in line with campus politics.
Katie Batza, KU associate professor of Women and Gender Studies, is pushing the call to remove Chick-fil-A a step further by calling the campus community to refrain from enjoying America’s favorite chicken sandwich.
“Hundreds will boycott or protest [Chick-fil-A, but the call is] falling on deaf ears," Batza told the Kansas City Star.
However, it appears KU Interim Provost Carl Lejuez is caving into the pressure.
“Moving forward, I believe it is important to have thoughtful discussion and deliberation when we enter into contracts,” Lejuez wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff, according to Fox News. “In the future, we will do so in a manner that is transparent and informed by our commitment to affirm diversity and to be a welcoming and inclusive campus.”
Conservatives, on the other hand, including radio personality Todd Starnes, are not remaining silent on the issue.
“The truth is, I’ve fielded a number of telephone calls on my nationally syndicated radio show from LGBT listeners who love Chick-fil-A,” Starnes contended in his Townhall column. “And let me drop another truth bomb as I drink my Chick-fil-A sweet tea – the company has never been accused of discriminating against the LGBT community.”
Opposing the boycott and call for Chick-fil-A to be removed from campus, the conservative student group College Republicans is defending the Christian restaurant’s right to serve and do business on campus – as well as students’ right to enjoy their favorite food.
“KU’s College Republicans have launched a petition to defend the nation’s most popular fast food chain,” Starnes noted. “And they plan to serve Chick-fil-A at their first meeting of the semester.”
The petition calls for students, alumni and concerned citizens to remind KU Chancellor Doug Girod that the anti-Chick-fil-A sentiments of LGBTQ activists on the faculty do not represent those held by the general student body.
"Tell our university administration that our community wants Chick-fil-A on this campus," the conservative group wrote, according to Fox.
But the editorial board of the local daily, the Kansas City Star, sides with the pro-LGBTQ faculty and is calling for KU students and staff to eat Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich instead.
“But for those who don’t like the political views underlying the ultra-popular spicy chicken sandwich, the solution should be simple: Vote with your feet and eat elsewhere,” the Star’s editorial board wrote. “[W]ord is that Popeyes has a really good chicken sandwich.”
Meanwhile, a Chick-fil-A in Greensboro, North Carolina, reached out to Popeyes employees last week in a Christian gesture of goodwill by providing them chicken sandwiches when they became “stressed out” by running out of their new chicken sandwiches during their chaotic launch to compete with the Christian fast food giant.