Shippensburg University promotes diversity and unity in its campus community. For the most part, the school’s actions are consistent with this value.
However, one of the university’s most recent business contracts does not reflect this environment of diversity. Chick-Fil-A was added to the Ceddia Union Building (CUB) food court at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
Chick-Fil-A became the center of controversy in 2012 when Dan Cathy, the former CEO, made anti LGBTQ remarks in an interview. Cathy is the son of S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A.
The chain is also known for donating to the National Christian Foundation. The NCF has given large donations to groups that seek to oppose the Equality Act, which seeks to protect LGBT people in workplaces. NCF also seeks to limit the LGBT community’s rights.
It is a rather mixed message to have a Chick-Fil-A on campus. Especially when it is housed in the same building that the university’s Pride Center is located. For some in the LGBT community, Chick-Fil-A is just a company run by people with intolerant values. For others in the community, seeing a Chick-Fil-A is a reminder of just how many people and groups are dedicated to taking human rights away from them.
Whether or not an individual purchases goods and services from a company is always a personal choice. To say that no one should eat at Chick-Fil-A would be hypocritical. There are thousands of everyday household brands that people regularly buy and use that treat their workers horribly, under pay them or use sweatshops to produce their goods
The fact that the university made a decision to bring in Chick-Fil-A, despite having been vocal in supporting the LGBT community on campus, was a conscious decision. That is what makes having Chick-Fil-A on campus an issue — it is hypocritical.
Every single student, faculty and staff member is entitled to the decision of whether or not to eat at Chick-Fil-A, or any other venue for that matter. However, the university welcoming a homophobic chain on campus is beyond their control.
The CUB is one of the most frequented buildings on campus. It houses the heart of the student government association, one of the larger food courts, several university offices and recreational centers, as well as the Pride Center, an office that provides needed support for the LGBT community, a community that has had to fight for its rights for decades. Whether intending to or not, LGBT students stumble across the glaring red Chick-Fil-A sign, reminding them some people seek to restrict their basic rights and to profit off of the LGBT community’s misfortune.
In no way should this be taken as the university being against LGBT people, but it does show a lack of foresight. Those who made the deal with Chick-fil-A and went through the process of setting up a space for them, appear to not have considered the reactions students might have. Not to mention there are other spaces on campus where the university could have put the Chick-Fil-A.
Shippensburg is a university for everyone. With places like the Pride Center, Women’s Center and Office of Multicultural Affairs, The Slate truly believes that Shippensburg University does more for inclusiveness than is necessary for just good public relations. But, sometimes actions speak louder than words. And the presence of Chick-Fil-A in the CUB demonstrates that the university is sending mixed messages to the LGBTQ+ community. The Slate recommends supporting those organizations that promote diversity and inclusivity and the events and programs they sponsor in order to strengthen the message that SU is definitely a university for all.