NYU Decided To Keep “Homophobic” Chick-fil-A Long Before Petition Launched

Last Thursday, NYU Student Senators Council announced its decision not to ban the campus Chick-fil-A, despite the company’s $2 million in donations to Christian organizations which oppose gay marriage.

The announcement came just as a throng of students gathered outside of Weinstein Hall, which houses Chick-fil-A, to protest the “anti-gay” chain. A petition begun by a Gallatin freshman in January had gathered over 11,000 signatures opposing its presence on campus. The outcry had made national headlines, and students at Northeastern University had successfully blocked a Chick-fil-A from opening on their campus barely a week before. Things were looking promising, but one thing was never said: the Student Senators Council had made their decision long before any of this took place. 

November 3, 2011 was the date of the actual vote (the petition began January 20, 2012). It took the SSC until last Thursday to draft and approve the document sent to the student body, according to council member Whitney Coulson. The decision was based on the claim that closing the franchise “for ideological reasons” would infringe on Chick-Fil-A’s freedom of speech, wrote Albert Cotugno, chair of SSC, in the student-wide email.

But the Council’s decision was not unanimous: four council members wished to see NYU rid of the chicken chain, and they plan to oppose their peers’ decision with a protest this coming Thursday.

Coulson, the SSC council member who represents the Silver School of Social Work, was among the dissenting voters. She said she believed Chick-fil-A  is in violation of the NYU anti-discrimination policy.

“This is an issue that involves civil rights being denied,” Coulson said. “By allowing the continued existence of this franchise on campus, New York University is participating in heterosexist business practices.”

S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, is a devout Christian. In 2011, he stated that the corporate purpose of the company is “To glorify God.” In a Forbes article from 2007, Cathy said the company regularly investigates employees’ personal lives, and said he would probably fire any employee found to be engaging in “sinful” behavior.

In 2009, Chick-fil-A’s charitable division WinShape donated $2 million to groups that actively oppose gay marriage, and the Chick-fil-A vice president has his own pro-traditional-marriage fund.

So, what if Student Senators Council had voted to ban Chick-Fil-A?

At the vote in November, 20 of the 23 SSC members were present. Only four voted in favor of a proposal ban Chick-fil-A, so it was repealed. Had the SSC voted the opposite way, the proposal would have gone on to the University Senate.

University Senate, headed by President Sexton himself, is the “chief deliberative body of the University,” responsible for things like setting university-wide policies and the academic calendar. Its executive committee appoints 8 of the 23 student senators. The other 15 are elected directly by the NYU student body.

According to John Beckman, NYU’s vice president of public affairs, NYU does not have a direct relationship with Chick-Fil-A. Rather, the Chick-Fil-A outlet is licensed by Aramark, the company that is contracted to handle all of NYU dining.

If the University Senate had also upheld the proposal to ban it, NYU would have asked Aramark to cancel the license they have with the franchise, “the same way we asked Aramark to remove Coke from its selections when that was banned,” Beckman said. In 2005, the Student Senators Council voted to ban Coke products on campus in protest of the company’s labor policies in Colombia. The ban was repealed in 2009, also by an SSC vote.

Protest planned for Thursday

Students are staging a second anti-Chick-fil-A demonstration to take place during the next Student Senators Council meeting this Thursday, when President Sexton will be present. They plan to gather at 3:30 pm in front of the Silver School of Social Work. The majority of the demonstration will be around Kimmel, according to Coulson.

NYU Chick-fil-A Protest Flier


    Share Your Thoughts


  1. Chris Williams says

    Why should we only try to get rid of Chick-Fil-A? There are other bad companies on campus.

    We should ban Coca-Cola products because of their environmental issues in India and their human rights abuses in Columbia and Guatemala. We should ban bottled water because it’s horrible for the environment. We should boycott Hollywood because of their support of bills like SOPA and PIPA. We should ban Apple products for being one of the least environmentally friendly technology companies and for their labor practices in China.

  2. Sage S. says

    This protest is ridiculous. I suppose next they’ll be pushing to ban most of the religious organizations on campus too, since the church isn’t exactly tolerant of homosexuality or gay marriage. Chik-Fil-A is being target because it’s run by Christians who advocate traditional marriage, the horror! So much for “tolerance” from the LGBT crowd.

  3. Jean Dujardin says

    This is stupid. Chik Fil A is ignorant, yes, but it is their money and they could do whatever they want with it. Likewise, it does huge business for Aramark because people enjoy their service. MANY corporations do terrible things that should potentially be protested. I wonder if this post was typed up on a Mac. Or is it not cool to hate on a company that exploits its employees?

  4. Berenice Bejo says

    @Sage S.

    I KNOW! I mean it’s so silly! Who even needs civil rights? It’s such an ignorant thing to speak out for yourself when your being threatened and protested against! The gall of those people! They shoud really be more tolerant of those that dislike them!

  5. Jash Norrd says

    Speak with your dollars. If they arn’t making any money they will close anyways. Companies don’t keep branches open that are losing money.

  6. Sage S. says

    @Berenice – You’re right, eating chicken completely violates your civil rights! It’s basically a gay holocaust! I’m surprised Obama hasn’t sent our troops over to Georgia to shut down their headquarters yet! Chik-Fil-A needs to stop force-feeding their chicken down your gullet!!!

  7. Sam G says

    I agree with Chris Williams in that many corporations engage in behavior which has opponents and proponents. Chik-Fil-A should not have to close its doors because it shares different values to some students and staff on-campus. I’m sure there are many atheists on campus who would like to see religious organizations pushed off campus; liberal minded students who oppose the College Republicans; and people who would want everyone on campus to not wear anything made in a sweat shop.

    All in all… demonstrate peacefully but don’t deprive other people of something that they enjoy merely because a particular organization shares different opinions from you. I’m sure many people at NYU have thought about the issue and picked their side and protests are unlikely to help you gain support. Sure I have friends in the LGBT community but I have made my stance on the subject clear. That is, even though I am a vegetarian who doesn’t eat Chik-Fil-A … depriving the organization of it’s voice because you have alternative preferences merely takes away from the idea of everyone being entitled to their freedom of speech.

  8. Daniel Kim says

    I think this is absolutely ridiculous. What about Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and Wal-Mart? All of these organizations have made similar donations to openly anti-gay organizations. The difference is that it didn’t go viral.

    But further then that, what about vegetarians or vegans. Are we going to ban Quiznos, Boar’s Head or Aramark’s other meat producing vendors? Don’t those franchises directly oppose their values though? Of course not! we just provide other options, and they choose to not eat at those vendors.

    What about the numerous kids who enjoy the services provided? 11,000 signatures is a lot, but there are also over 40,000 students at NYU, where is their voice? Are there even 11,000 people on the meal plan? Why can’t they call for a boycott instead? Did those workers, at this particular franchise actively and openly discriminate?

    I do believe that in this day and age anyone should be able to marry the person they love, but it isn’t wrong to believe otherwise! People can think whatever they wish! It is the beauty of being in America. If the issue was that Chick-fil-A refused to serve you because you were gay, or wanted all gay people eliminated or something even more extreme, then we have an issue. But to take a stance on a social issue is well within their rights. If you are offended, go eat somewhere else. If Chick-fil-A’s sign makes you so uneasy you can’t even look at it, then go eat at Kimmel, Downstein, Hayden, Rubin, U-hall or any of the other dining halls.

  9. Tim G. says

    The way these ignorant protestors use the term “Anti-LGBTQ Organizations” sounds like they are referring to an organization/charity who’s sole purpose is to fight the LGBTQ community. These organizations that Chick-fil-a supports are CHARITIES, using money to help people and send students college. The way I see it Chick-fil-a is giving a hell of a lot more money to charities than other NYU restaurants. Just because the charities in charge of this money are Christian/conservative based does not mean that the money is not going to a good cause, they just support different laws on marriage than the LGBTQ community.
    How often do you see a mammoth corporation like Chick-fil-a openly and honestly giving millions of dollars to charities? I find this issue’s comparison to the Stonewall riots repulsive. To me this infers that Chick-fil-a do not serve gays and make open actions to remove them from their restaurant. When that day comes I’ll support your cause but right now this is just a matter of a corporation’s right to freedom of speech. The Stonewall riots are an important part of LGBTQ history that forever helped gay rights. Some 18 year old student’s scuff with a fried chicken chain is not the Stonewall riots!

  10. Tina Raus says

    We hate gays.
    We hate women.
    We hate blacks.
    We hate Mexicans.
    We hate the disabled.
    We hate Jews.
    Perhaps their ‘freedom of speech’ will be allowed and tolerated, but if you substitute ‘gays’ for any other group that has suffered from social inequalities… one has to wonder why such bigotry would be welcome on a campus which is supposed to support higher level thinking. This is clearly hate speech(literally); why does the sign not say ‘we support traditional marriage’ if that was the intended message?

  11. Nic M. says

    Some minorities just have to get over themselves! The world is unfair get over it!! Just because some folks get thier way 90% of the time does’nt mean its because of predjudice…Let the market be the judge, jury and executioner. Somebody elses religious views should’nt be trampled on for a few gays “feelings”. I say lets end this mindset of preventing bussinesses from doing bussiness because of a few miss steps.. Let start by opening trade relations with Iran..