Albequerque, New Mexico — Students at the University of New Mexico recently voted to keep the popular fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A on campus after some students expressed concern that the restaurant made them feel “unsafe.”
The Student Union Building Board, also known as SUB, had proposed a vote after receiving a resolution that the restaurant be banned because of its alleged past donations to groups that oppose homosexual behavior, as well as statements made by company president Dan Cathy.
As previously reported, Chick-fil-A first came under fire last year following comments that Cathy had made to Baptist Press outlining that he is “very much supporting of the family — the Biblical definition of the family unit.”
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives,” he said. “We give God thanks for that.”
According to the Washington Post, Cathy had also stated on a radio broadcast in June that he believed that the promotion of homosexual “marriage” was evoking the wrath of God upon America.
“As it relates to society in general, I think we’re 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,’” he opined. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.”
A number of cities and colleges that have been offended by Cathy’s comments have considered kicking Chick-fil-A off campus for its beliefs. Last year, Elon University in North Carolina voted to evict Chick-fil-A from the premises.
While students at the University of New Mexico were divided over the matter, a recent survey of 3,700 students and staff showed that 94 percent wanted the restaurant to stay.
“No one is in imminent danger on this campus because of chicken,” one student told KOAT-TV.
SUB president Rebecca Vanucci disagreed.
“If someone is telling me they feel unsafe, then I feel I should respect that and that’s why I wanted them removed,” she said.
In taking an official tally, SUB voted to 8-3 to keep Chick-fil-A on campus.
Walter Miller, associate vice president for student life at University of New Mexico, said that student feedback likely played a large role in influencing the vote.
“I think the research and survey results are what was important for them,” he told reporters. “To get feedback from the campus community in the whole, that was the important part.”
Vanucci said she felt that part of the reason the restaurant was not replaced was because of the costs associated with such a move.
“The SUB and administration has to pay between $175,000 to $400,000 to just move them out and put a new [restaurant] in,” she said.
As previously reported, Chick-fil-A says that while company president Dan Cathy expressed his support for the “Biblical definition of the family unit,” the restaurant has long adhered to a policy of equal treatment toward homosexuals, whether they be customers or employees.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent owner/operators,” the company posted on July 19th on its official Chick-fil-A Facebook page following national uproar over Cathy’s statements. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
It also explained in a statement last September that it has never purposefully donated to companies that oppose homosexual “marriage.”
“For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized,” the company outlined. “Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas.”
“Our intent is not to support political or social agendas,” Chick-fil-A further clarified, noting that the company’s charitable contributions have always been to positive charities that are not issue-based.