Between bites of their Chick-n-Minis and waffle fries, some students struggle with Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBTQ affiliations.
A study by ThinkProgress from March 20 revealed the Chick-fil-A Foundation in 2017 donated $1.8 million to three groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Many students have condemned the company’s actions, which led them to rethink their support for Chick-fil-A.
Of the dining selections on campus, there are two Chick-fil-As — one in the Texas Union and another in the Student Activity Center. University Unions Executive Director Mulugeta Ferede said they have little to do with Chick-fil-A being on campus.
“The University has no relationship with Chick-fil-A,” Ferede said. “Aramark is the food service manager with the Unions. We have no contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Aramark’s contract with the University Unions began over 10 years ago, bringing with it the establishment of a number of restaurants, including Chick-fil-A. Ferede said student feedback is important and that the University Unions solicits these responses.
“We’re very much engaged with our students and incorporate that feedback into our food service on campus, but we haven’t had any feedback or complaint since the news has come out,” Ferede said.
Accounting sophomore Claire Levinson, president of the GLBTQA+ Business Student Association, said the lack of outrage is surprising.
“I was surprised UT students didn’t do anything because other students at other universities had protests,” Levinson said. “But that’s on me because I didn’t do anything besides posting on social media.”
Levinson recognizes this is an uphill battle for the queer community, but she said every source of pushback can help.
“I don’t think (Chick-fil-A is) going to change their ways no matter how many schools take them of out their university meal plans,” Levinson said. “However, the more we can stop funds going to those organizations they support, the better.”
While some students disagree with Chick-fil-A’s values, others embrace the findings. Psychology junior Matthew Myers is not only tolerant of Chick-fil-A running its business on campus, but also said he would be opposed to its removal.
“I am going to continue eating Chick-fil-A,” Myers said. “If anything, potentially banning Chick-fil-A is discriminating against my Christian values.”
Molly Bartell, art history freshman and member of the LGBTQ community, said she will still eat Chick-fil-A even though she does not agree with their beliefs.
“I feel guilty when I go there now, but you can’t be mad at an organization for expressing religious rights, religious freedom and the right to speech,” Bartell said. “Religious freedom is important, too, and Chick-fil-A has the right to have freedom of speech even if it hurts me.”
While students like Bartell may not embrace Chick-fil-A’s values, some still choose to eat there because of its convenience and flavor. Biochemistry sophomore Chantel Blakes said those are reasons she continues to eat Chick-fil-A.
“Obviously, it sucks that in this day and age people still find (LGBTQ) wrong,” Blakes said. “But this doesn’t really change my relationship with Chick-fil-A. I’ll still eat it. It’s delicious food, and it’s one of the very few options on campus that I actually like.”