Despite Chick-fil-A’s announcement last week that it will no longer support anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, some faculty and students at the University of Kansas say their opposition to having the food chain on campus will not change.
Faculty Senate President Shawn Leigh Alexander said his stance is no different from what it was in August, when he endorsed the Sexuality and Gender Diversity Faculty Staff Council’s letter expressing concerns with the University's moves to “deepen its relationship with Chick-fil-A” by creating a Chick-fil-A coin toss and moving the organization to the Kansas Union.
“Verbally saying ‘we no longer will do this’ does not change the culture and the impact of the community, so in a week, I see nothing different, other than the fact that they say, ‘We no longer do this,’” Alexander said. “I believe what they have said — now show me with their actions that this will actually be the case.”
Katie Batza, president of SGD Faculty Staff Council, declined to comment in an email to the Kansan.
Chick-fil-A continued donating to anti-LGBTQ+ groups after pledging to stop donating to anti-gay groups in 2012, following Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comment to the Baptist Press that his company was “guilty as charged” when asked if it had a stance on marriage equality.
That was the same year three Chick-fil-A petitions rose on KU’s campus — one to remove the chain from campus and two to keep it on campus. Despite this, the administration chose to renew the University’s contract with Chick-fil-A for ten years.
“It’s a difficult thing because everyone thinks that because Chick-fil-A made this announcement, everything goes away. But it doesn’t go away,” Alexander said. “Our University and our [Kansas] Union corporation chose to stand by a discriminatory company in continuing their contract with them.”
A statement released by Chick-fil-A showed that it donated $1.65 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and $115,000 to the Salvation Army in 2018 — two organizations that advocates claim discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.
Like Alexander, junior illustration major Alivia Crouch — who has been boycotting the company for a year — said she would also like to see proof of Chick-fil-A not donating to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations to believe its promises.
“It makes me feel better that they’re taking a step towards the right direction on supporting more customers and broadening our customers and the LGBTQ+ community,” Crouch said. “I would like to see proof, like anyone else.”
Freshman political science major Allicyn Burns, on the other hand, said Chick-fil-A’s stance would not be a reason for her to avoid the organization.
“I kind of just look past it,” Burns said. “I just try not to make everything so political. For me, it’s food. I know it’s not that for a lot of people, and it matters what they’re donating to.”
Although he does not eat at the chain because it does not align with his food preferences, graduate student Linh Toan said he does not think Chick-fil-A’s statement will stop leaders of the organization from donating.
“Even if the official Chick-fil-A records show they don’t donate to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, the people in charge, the executives and owners of Chick-fil-A, can still donate through their own personal funds or through other organizations,” Toan said. “It doesn’t really mean much in my opinion.”
The contract between the University and Chick-fil-A will end in 2024, and the question of renewal will arise for University administration once again.