With over 1,000 restaurants in 34 different states, Chik-fil-A is undoubtedly a nation-wide chain. In Michigan however, there is only one Chik-fil-A location, and it’s located in the Pioneer Food Court at Oakland University. But, after the company’s CEO Dan Cathy stated he was in support of the “biblical definition of a family,” some students are pushing for its removal.
When Chrissy Starzyk, a member of the OU Gay-Straight Alliance, first found out Cathy was against same-sex marriage, she, along with the GSA, arranged a protest to get rid of Oakland’s restaurant. Though the attempt was short-lived, she said the student organization is planning another.
“I don’t like supporting companies who support anti-gay anything, so I had no reason to like the place,” Starzyk, a junior majoring in psychology, said. “I think now that it’s public knowledge, people will be more aware of the issue and we’ll have a better chance of getting support from the people on campus.”
She said its claim as the only one in Michigan is a win-lose situation, regardless of the way it’s publically viewed.
“People aren’t going to want to get rid of it because of that reason, despite it looking bad,” she said. “People brag about OU having the only (Chick-fil-A). In my opinion, people use it as a selling point. I think the only way we could be successful in ousting it is if we find another choice that both Chartwells and the students agree on.”
Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, said an attempt to discriminate against the restaurant would be unconstitutional.
“There couldn’t be a clearer and more blatant case of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination if the university forces Chick-fil-A to leave campus because of its owner’s exercise of his First Amendment free speech rights,” he said.
Chartwells, the company that operates Oakland’s franchise location, released a statement July 24. It said the company has clear and strong policies that embrace diversity, inclusion and respect in the workplace and have a zero tolerance for any behavior contrary to those beliefs.
“Chartwells has a Zero Tolerance Discrimination and Harassment Policy, which enforces compliance with federal, state and local laws that prohibit discrimination or harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, color, disability, age, pregnancy, national origin, veteran status or any other unlawful factor,” the statement said.
While unsure of the plans for the future of Oakland’s relationship with Chick-fil-A, Theodore Montgomery, director of media relations at OU, hinted at the likelihood of an opportunity for students to become involved in the decision.
“Oakland University is totally committed to inclusion in all forms,” Montgomery said. “We expect to continue to have a robust campus discussion about (retaining the Chick-fil-A in the Oakland Center) when our students come back to campus in September.”
Oakland’s location will reopen on Sept. 4 — the first day of the fall semester.
No religious or political student organizations could be reached for comment.
The Political Battlefield
Many politicians, including former president candidate Mike Huckabee, have stood behind movements either for or against Chick-fil-A, like the ‘Chick-fil-A appreciation day’ and the
The mayoral debate
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, San Fransisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emannuel have all spoken against Chick-fil-A, making threats to ban it from their respective cities. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on his Friday morning radio show, stated though he is a supporter of same-sex marriage, he does not agree with the attempts to block the Chick-fil-A’s from various cities in the country.
An issue of free speech
Many people have not ‘sided’ either with or against Chick-fil-A, but also do not agree with banning their expansion or operation solely on the basis of the comments made by Cathy. Many people say the business should not be judged poorly by Cathy’s excersizing of his right to free speech.
Contact Staff Photographer Dylan Dulberg via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @dyldude64