This summer, Purdue University announced plans to open a new residence hall in 2020, which would include a Chick-fil-A, after more than 3,000 students signed a petition to bring the franchise to campus. However, other students, as well as staff of the university, are less than thrilled by the agreement. They’re calling for the school to "promote inclusivity” by holding commercial ventures, such as the anti-LGBTQ fast-food restaurant, to the same standards as the university’s policies and hiring process.
University Senate Leadership at Purdue University, which exercises the legislative and policy-making powers assigned to the faculty at the West Lafayette, Indiana, university, have proposed a measure that would hold the school’s administration accountable for ensuring commercial ventures on the campus “uphold the same values and promote inclusivity with their policies, hiring practices and actions," according to the Journal & Courier. The measure will be put to a vote in October.
However, the measure intentionally did not name Chick-fil-A, which has donated millions to anti-LGBTQ and hate groups, according to the National LGBTQ Task Force.
“It’s bigger than that,” Audrey Ruple, chair of the University Senate’s Equity and Diversity Committee, told the Journal & Courier. “We intentionally didn’t want this to be about one business, just ‘The Chick-fil-A’ resolution.”
“This resolution does not mention Chick-Fil-A at all, rather it speaks to our commitment to creating and sustaining a welcoming campus for all. In fact, inclusion is one of our core principles as an institution,” Ruple said in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. “The presence of businesses on our campus that do not promote inclusivity goes against our own University Policy. We, as a faculty, will neither condone nor tolerate discrimination. 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.”
Jo Boileau, the university's student body president, however, was not shy about directly addressing Chick-fil-A’s owner’s controversial stances. Recently, due to owner Dan Cathy's outspoken opinion on same-sex marriage and the companies' million-dollar donations to anti-LGBTQ charities, Chick-fil-A restaurants have been blocked from opening at a Texas airport and were protested at the University of Kansas, which has served students since 2004.
“As student body president and as an openly-gay student, this is something I’m confronting on a daily basis, in conversations I’m having every single day with students on this campus,” Boileau told the Journal & Courier.
Boileau questioned what message the university was sending LGBTQ students and faculty by permitting Chick-fil-A to operate on campus.
While the measure is expected to get a formal University Senate vote in October, fellow faculty members are unsure if it will have any influence in the university's decision to allow a Chick-fil-A on campus.
“I want to be sensitive to it,” Rob Wynkoop, Purdue’s director of service enterprises, told the Journal & Courier. “But it’s something that students have called for for a long, long, long, long time. Student body presidents and their cabinets have actually run on that platform, to bring [Chick-fil-A] to campus.”
Wynkoop added that the fast-food restaurant had already been on campus for a year. In 2018, Chick-fil-A opened a pop-up style location three days a week in a building on campus.
While 3,416 students who signed the petition to bring Chick-fil-A permanently to the campus cheered the announcement, fellow peers and their professors are concerned.
“There are students, there are staff and there are faculty on this campus, who are hurting by a decision made by this university," Linda Prokopy, a professor and member of the University Senate’s Equity and Diversity Committee, said.
“Many people, when they’re not personally affected by the exclusionary principles of businesses, it’s genuinely a blind spot,” Ruple told the news outlet. “For me, this is something that’s so central to how we operate as an institution, that to allow organizations onto our premises that don’t follow those same inclusivity principles actually really undermines the core of who we are.”
On Friday, Purdue University provided a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle regarding Chick-fil-A, which read in part, “Purdue will continue to welcome Chick-fil-A to our campus given the overwhelming demand for their service from students, staff, and faculty. While we respect and protect the rights of all to express their opinions at Purdue, this clarification is intended to reassure our students and others that this long-requested dining option will not be taken from them and to dispel any impression that Purdue would ever seriously consider such an action.”
The statement goes on to read that the franchisee, a "young woman" and Purdue graduate, has "signed and observed a commitment of equal access and treatment in her employment and service practices."
"We are fortunate to be a campus that embraces excellence through diversity and freedom of expression and choice for all people. 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," Dr. John Gates, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, provided in an addition statement.
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