From The Emory Wheel:
Statements from Emory administration indicate that the University does not plan on taking significant actions against Chick-fil-A in the near future. In the State of the University Address, University President James W. Wagner stated … the University would not encourage Sodexo to remove Chick-fil-A.
In October, leaders from seven student LGBT groups sent a letter to Emory administrators decrying the ongoing presence of Chick-fil-A on the Decatur campus and asking Emory, named one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses in th Southeast, to end its “contractual relationship” with the fast food chain immediately.
“This company has long been a concern for LGBT students, faculty, and alumni because of its anti-gay ideology and activities. What was merely a source of anxiety on campus in recent years has now escalated into an ideologically potent symbol of discrimination and inequality,” reads the letter, dated Oct. 2 and delivered Oct. 8 to Emory President James Wagner and Senior Vice President Ajay Nair.
In late August, members of Emory’s LGBT alumni group GALA sent letters opposing the relationship and students began posting flyers in protest.
“As alumni of Emory University, we would like to formally request that the Chick-fil-A company be removed from our beloved campus. Chick-fil-A’s ideology of hate and intolerance is not compatible with our University Mission Statement,” reads an Aug. 23 letter sent by GALA leaders to Emory President James Wagner.
“Judging by the homophobic words and actions of top Chick-Fil-A executives, and the $2 million donated by the company to homophobic organizations in 2010 alone, it is clear that Chick-Fil-A does not represent the values embraced by the Emory University community, and allowing such an organization to continue to operate on our campus runs counter to the spirit of equality that the University claims to champion,” it continues.
The letter calls it “ironic” that latest round of controversy over Chick-fil-A occurred in the same year that Emory’s Office of LGBT Life celebratesd its 20th anniversary, alumni backed a $250,000 endowment for the office, and Wagner himself made an “It Gets Better” video.
“If we do nothing, we are just as guilty as if we had made contributions to those hate groups directly,” concludes the letter, signed by GALA Co-chairs Lilly Correa and Ryan Roche.
In a separate letter, GALA also expressed concern that the university’s Goizueta Business School holds a mandatory student retreat at the WinShape Foundation campus in Rome, Ga. WinShape was created by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and is the company’s main vehicle for philanthropic donations.
In an Aug. 31 letter to Goizueta Dean Lawrence Benveniste, GALA leaders said they had heard complaints from a parent of a student about the retreat location. They note that they have heard about a steering committee and task force that is examining where retreats are held, and stress that WinShape is a “blatant conflict with our university’s culture of diversity and inclusion.”
Emory officials issued an initial response to concerns about Chick-fil-A back in August, stressing the school’s commitment to diversity but also declining to sever the relationship with the fast-food chain.
On Aug. 1, Emory issued a statement about the fast-food chain having a restaurant in the campus food court at Cox Hall.
“Emory University has a long history of creating access, inclusion, and equity for Emory’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students, faculty, staff and alumni. Recent public statements by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, do not reflect Emory’s values as an institution,” read the statement from Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Dr. Ajay Nair.
“Nevertheless, freedom of expression and an open exchange of ideas are also central tenets of the Emory community. Emory therefore respects the right of people to express their disagreement with Mr. Cathy by not patronizing Chick-fil-A,” Nair said.