A college in New Jersey provided its students with a chance to select which new restaurant they'd like to have on campus -- but they deliberately decided to exclude Chick-fil-A from the list.
In the spring of this year, students at Rider University were given an option to vote for their top choice of restaurant to be brought on campus -- and they chose Chick-fil-A. However, the private college sent out yet another survey in the fall, and excluded the fast food restaurant "based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community," the university said, per NJ.com.
According to the university's official statement, the decision to remove the restaurant from the list of choices was ultimately taken "to lean in the direction of creating a welcoming environment where differences can be appreciated and where each individual can expect to experience dignity and respect."
"In many ways, this issue is one that goes beyond our decision and touches on a complex conversation taking place throughout the country."The decision, however, didn't sit well with many students -- and it quickly sparked a backlash. Per the NJ article, one of the students told the website Campus Reform that the restaurant sells chicken, and added that as far as it concerns her, "that should be the focus."
"I don't think it is fair, however, because Rider is a private college, ultimately the decision is their own," the student added.
The decision was made because, in 2012, the restaurant's corporate values stirred controversy when its president denounced same-sex marriage. News reports later revealed that the company had also made donations to organizations that were against same-sex marriage.
The university said that it required a "difficult assessment of competing interests" to reach the decision.
"The choices in this situation, like in so many others, were imperfect," the university's administrators said in the statement. "They challenged us to reflect on our values and consider what kind of community we want to provide for those who live and learn at Rider University."Besides taking the decision, Rider University also asked its Center for Diversity and Inclusion to organize a campus forum where students, faculty, staff, and others can voice their concerns, the NJ report said.
"We fully acknowledge an organization's right to hold these beliefs, just as we acknowledge the right for individuals in our community and elsewhere to also personally hold the same beliefs," the administrators said.
Per an article by Business Insider, earlier this year -- when Chick-fil-A decided to open a restaurant in Toronto -- pro-LGBTQ-rights consumers vowed to boycott it. Similarly, the CEO of Twitter -- Jack Dorsey -- also came under fire after he revealed that he ate at said restaurant during LGBT+ Pride Month. Dorsey, however, apologized later.
According to the NJ report, the controversy not only prompted boycotts and kiss-ins from LGBT+ advocates -- but certain factions of society supported the restaurant's stance too. Amid the protests in 2012, conservative politician Mike Huckabee organized a rival "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day."
The restaurant, however, did not show its willingness to embrace the day. According to a report by US News, the restaurant's executive vice president of marketing, Steve Robinson, issued a statement and said that "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was not created by Chick-fil-A."