Chick-Fil-A returns to Cal Poly despite anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric

Just three years after fast-food franchise Chick-Fil-A was publicly tallied for donations to anti-LGBT organizations, Cal Poly has reopened the popular but controversial on-campus establishment.

On January 18, Cal Poly opened a temporary Chick-Fil-A location at Poly Canyon Village (PCV). The new location replaces the original Chick-Fil-A housed in the now defunct Avenue restaurant complex.

The pop-up location will have no indoor seating and will serve a limited menu of familiar items like chicken sandwiches, nuggets and waffle chips.

The opening of Chick-Fil-A in the former What’s Cookin’ location came without a public announcement from the university. According to Aaron Lambert, communications specialist for the Cal Poly Corporation, Campus Dining relies on word of mouth for more popular venue openings.

“This approach helps control customer volumes and ensures the campus community can be served quickly and safely,” Lambert said in an email to Mustang News. “Opening a pop-up in PCV was an opportunity to take advantage of a location that wasn’t fully utilized and provide a restore option that has always been one of the most popular on the campus.”

Cal Poly’s original Chick-Fil-A site once received an award for reaching $2 million in sales in 2018. Cal Poly’s Chick-Fil-A was one of the 52 top-selling sites on 362 nationwide.

The university expects the PCV location to operate during the current academic year. A permanent Chick-Fil-A location will be set up in the renovated University Union dining complex.

Ava Kershner | Mustang News

While the return of the popular dining option has drawn many students to the short-lived venue, it has also rekindled controversy over Chick-Fil-A’s anti-LGBTQ+ views.

In an Academic Senate resolution passed in 2019, the university was encouraged to sever ties with the franchise because the relationship furthered “the worldview[s] highly inconsistent with our values ​​of diversity and inclusiveness at Cal Poly.

According to ThinkProgress, a progressive news site, Chick-Fil-A donated $1.6 million in 2017 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for summer camps, an organization that prohibits its employees from acts homosexuals, as well as $6,000 to Paul Anderson Youth Home, a “Christian Home for Troubled Youth”, which teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong.

As of 2022, the franchise itself no longer donates to these organizations; however, CEO Dan Cathy remains a top donor to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, a group that funded opposition to the equality law that would expand civil protections for the LGBTQ community.

“Right now is a really important time in the fight for LGBTQ rights and so to have a band like Cal Poly, which is having such an impact on our local community, come out and say ‘yes, we want to invite this controversy to return. , we want to invite this group that has this history of anti-LGBTQ actions back to campus. I think it sends a stronger message than they think,” Serrina Ruggles, director of operations for the GALA Pride and Diversity Center in San Luis Obispo. , noted.

According to Thomas Gutierrez, President of the Academic Senate and author of the resolution, despite the Senate’s strong recommendation, the university chose to disregard the resolution based on protecting Chick-Fil-A’s right to freedom of expression as a business.

“The contract that Cal Poly has with Chick-Fil-A is making a lot of money for the university and in this case it feels like the university is ignoring the concerns of its students and faculty to keep winning. that money,” Gutierrez said.

Ruggles, a San Luis Obispo resident, said she feels the franchise is very closely tied to Cal Poly within the local community.

“I grew up here. I’ve lived here for most of my life and the only time I really hear much about Chick-Fil-A other than when I see it on the news is when it becomes an issue again on the campus,” Ruggles said. “I think [the continued relationship with Chick-Fil-A] sends a strong message of ‘we hear you, we see you, we’re not going to do anything about it.’

The resolution asserts that the franchise’s presence at Cal Poly is negatively impacting the campus climate for LGBTQ students and faculty.

“Unfortunately, we are used to it. We expect that when we walk into a room, we expect that we have to fight and we’re still not going to be listened to,” Ruggles said. “If they really want to make a change, if they really want to commit to diversity, equity and inclusion and make their students feel [heard]feel seen and feel safe on their campus, so they need to put their money where their mouth is.

Despite Chick-Fil-A’s continued presence on campus, Gutierrez said he has no plans to pursue any further actions through the Academic Senate.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done with the current resolution. Our recommendation to the university is on the record, but unfortunately our jurisdiction is limited,” he said.

Cal Poly’s last five-year contract with Chick-Fil-A will be renewed in 2023.

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