WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Officials at Purdue University have rejected a push by some students and staff to abandon plans to include Chick-fil-A in a new residence hall that will open next year, stating that it would not be “inclusive” for the university to exclude the popular fast food restaurant.
“We would not be promoting choice and freedom by depriving thousands of people in our community of a choice they have long sought and are already taking advantage of in large numbers,” the university said in a statement on Friday. “And, we would not be practicing inclusion by excluding a completely legitimate business and its staff from our campus.”
According to reports, after more than 3,000 students and others had signed a Change.org petition to bring Chick-fil-A to Purdue University, it was announced in late July that the chicken chain and Jersey Mike’s subs would be moving in to the upcoming Third Street Suites North.
However, some students and faculty were unhappy with the announcement as they believe that Chick-fil-A is anti-homosexual and gives money to organizations that oppose homosexuality.
Linda Prokopy, a professor and member of the Purdue Senate’s Equity and Diversity Committee, told the Journal & Courier that “there are students, there are staff and there are faculty on this campus who are hurting by a decision made by this university.”
“The presence of businesses on our campus that do not promote inclusivity goes against our own university policy,” Audrey Ruple, the chair of the committee, also said in a statement.
“We, as a faculty, will neither condone nor tolerate discrimination,” she said. “I firmly believe that so long as any one of the members of our community feels excluded or ‘othered’ we are falling short of our own values. Our core principle of inclusion can only be achieved when we all feel welcome and included at Purdue University.”
A proposal is consequently being worked up in an effort to urge the university to require any commercial entities on campus to “uphold the same values and promote inclusivity with their policies, hiring practices and action.”
One student told the outlet that he believes the opposition is minimal, as he was in the room when students broke into cheering when they learned that Chick-fil-A would be opening on campus.
“I think the number of people trying to keep Chick-fil-A off our campus because of their political stances is a small minority,” said David Bergsma. “Most students couldn’t care less. We just want the amazing food they have.”
Purdue officials said on Friday that they wanted to issue a statement as it wished to assure students that their “long-requested dining option will not be taken from them and to dispel any impression that Purdue would ever seriously consider such an action.”
They noted that the franchisee has signed an agreement that she will provide “equal access” in employment and service.
“We are fortunate to be a campus that embraces excellence through diversity and freedom of expression and choice for all people,” said Dr. John Gates, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion.
“The Chick-fil-A operator on campus is bound by Purdue’s non-discrimination policy statement, and we look forward to them respecting our institutional core values of integrity, honor, respect, inclusion, innovation and growth.”
As previously reported, Chick-fil-A has distanced itself in recent years from any stance on homosexuality, including that of the organizations to which it donates. It contends that it continues to be mischaracterized as an anti-homosexual company or one that donates to causes that oppose homosexuality.
“Recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand,” the restaurant chain remarked after being banned from an airport in Texas and New York in April. “We want to make it clear that our sole focus is on providing delicious food and welcoming everyone — not being a part of a national political conversation. We do not have a political or social agenda.”
“More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand. We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Representatives of Chick-fil-A also created a page on the company website, it said, to “set the record straight” in light of a “long trend in what continues to be a misleading report that is driving an inaccurate narrative about our brand.”
Chick-fil-A, which states that its donor practices are toward youth programs and have nothing to do with homosexuality, further noted that it discontinued giving to one charity “after a blog post surfaced that does not meet Chick-fil-A’s commitment to creating a welcoming environment to all.”