Lawrence, KS – A University of Kansas faculty council has called for a boycott of the school’s on-campus Chick-fil-A restaurant because they believe the fast-food chain is “hostile” to “marginalized and LGBTQ people.”
The Sexuality and Gender Diversity Faculty Staff Council expressed its “outrage” in a letter to Chancellor Doug Girod and other university leaders, after the school moved the eatery from a basement location to a “prime real estate” location in the Memorial Union building.
The council also blasted university leaders for creating the “Chick-fil-A Coin Toss” at home football games.
“The culture of Chick-fil-A fosters hate and discrimination on multiple levels,” the faculty group declared, calling the company a “bastion of bigotry.”
The council alleged that the chain “has a history of supporting organizations that are hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, families, and communities,” and that the company donated $1.8 million “to anti-LGBTQ groups” in 2017.
“Dan Cathy, the CEO, has stated multiple times that he supports ‘the biblical definition of the family unit’ and ‘[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,’” the letter read.
The on-campus restaurant had been operating in the basement of the school’s Wescoe Hall for the past 15 years as part of a $60,000 annual lease agreement, The Kansas City Star reported.
Under the 10-year contract, the university would have been required to spend $2.6 million in upgrades if the restaurant were to stay in the basement location, so the eatery was moved to the higher-profile building over the summer, Interim Provost Carl Lejuez told the paper.
“Despite our denouncements and the university’s own moves to increase the campus’s diversity, equity, and inclusion, KU granted Chick-fil-A, a bastion of bigotry, a prime retail location in the heart of our campus,” the faculty council raged.
“The Union houses spaces that the KU community designates as safe and accepting,” the group continued. “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 arrival of Chick-fil-A in this building is insulting, counterproductive, and unacceptable.”
The council declared that moving the restaurant to a more prominent location was a slap in the face to everyone who has pushed for inclusion and safety.
“Moving Chick-Fil-A to the Union and granting it a role at the start of all home football games violates the feelings of safety and inclusion that so many of us have striven to create, foster, and protect on campus, and sends a message that the Union, KU Athletics, and the administration at large are more concerned about money and corporate sponsorship than the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of marginalized and LGBTQ people,” the faculty council wrote.
The group urged university leaders to “rectify this situation,” and also demanded “a guarantee…that these contracts will not be renewed once expired.”
They further insisted that university must be more “transparent” about how new on-campus vendors are chosen.
“In the meantime, we will urge our members and allies to speak with our dollars as well as our words, and boycott the restaurant,” the faculty council said in the letter. “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.”
Lejuez later issued an email to staff and faculty about the council’s concerns, FOX News reported.
“Moving forward, I believe it is important to have thoughtful discussion and deliberation when we enter into contracts,” the interim provost wrote. “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.”