Cal Poly to keep Chick-fil-A despite backlash over anti-gay bent

Despite mounting pressure and an Academic Senate vote urging university administrators to boot the chicken franchise Chick-fil-A from the Cal Poly campus because of the company’s support for anti-LGBT groups, the administration has decided to allow the business to continue to operate.

Chick-fil-A has politically conservative company leadership, and the Chick-fil-A Foundation has reportedly made large donations to anti-LGBT groups. In turn, initiatives have arisen to ban Chick-fil-A from some jurisdictions and campuses across the country.

On Tuesday night, Cal Poly’s Academic Senate, the university’s faculty governing body, approved a resolution urging the administration and the Cal Poly Corporation to cut ties with Chick-fil-A and terminate its contract with the chicken franchise on campus. Cal Poly currently has a five-year contract with Chick-fil-A that was signed in 2018.

The university responded with multiple statements to media stating it disagrees with Chick-fil-A’s politics, but cutting ties with the company would effectively amount to censorship.

“To be very clear, university administration and Cal Poly Corporation leadership disagree passionately with the ideologies of some of the organizations to which the president of Chick-fil-A has chosen to make personal donations,” Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said in a statement to KSBY. “However, university administration’s disagreement with the political views of a given business owner does not give the university license to effectively censor that business and prohibit if from continuing to operate at the university.”

In another statement to KSBY, the university said it does not believe in “responding to intolerance with intolerance.” 

“Rather, we must model our values of inclusion — that means upholding the rights of others to have different perspectives and ensuring there is space in our community for differing viewpoints and ideologies, even those that may be in direct conflict with our own,” Cal Poly’s statement said.

Academic Senate Vice Chair Thomas Gutierrez has argued that Cal Poly should kick Chick-fil-A off the campus, and that by continuing to do business with Chick-fil-A, the university is financially supporting causes that conflict with its values. [Mustang News]

“We don’t sell pornography in the bookstore, and we don’t have a Hooters on campus — we already pre-select those kind of things based on our existing values,” Gutierrez said. “This is a similar thing, the difference is we’re actually profiting from this. So our money, every dollar a student is spending at Chick-fil-A, is going to these causes that are in violation of our values.”