A resolution urging Cal Poly to kick Chick-fil-A off campus passed with overwhelming support at the Academic Senate meeting on May 7, but Cal Poly has no plans to remove the fast-food chain.
Academic Senate Vice Chair Thomas Gutierrez argued the franchise’s donations to anti-LGBTQ groups does not align with Cal Poly’s values. The Chick-fil-A Foundation donated more than $1.8 million to groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in 2017, according to ThinkProgress.
Gutierrez said Cal Poly already filters their vendors based on their values and that there is no reason Chick-fil-A should be an exception.
“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.”
During the discussion, concerns were raised about the legal ramifications of canceling the franchise contract with the Georgia-based fast-food chain. Gutierrez said it would probably be expensive and most likely not a good use of resources to cancel the contract, but he also said he believes there is a possibility to find creative solutions when the time comes.
A five-year contract was signed in 2018 to continue the franchise agreement.
Gutierrez said the main point of the resolution is acknowledging there is a problem.
While there was some opposition in the room about the complications of removing Chick-fil-A, most members said a franchise that supports anti-LGBTQ values does not belong on Cal Poly’s campus.
In response, University Spokesperson Matt Lazier said while Cal Poly disagrees with the values Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy has chosen to make donations to, they have no plans to sever ties with the organization.
“It is the right of each campus member to make their own decisions about supporting – or not supporting – a given business at Cal Poly,” Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News.
“It is the right of each campus member to make their own decisions about supporting – or not supporting – a given business at Cal Poly”
According to Lazier, ending Cal Poly’s relationship with Chick-fil-A because the administration disagrees with the religious or political beliefs of the franchise would be its own form of censorship and intolerance.
Moving forward, the Academic Senate will urge both the Cal Poly administration and Cal Poly Corporation to “sever ties with Chick-fil-A and terminate the contract with the on-campus franchise” and to “be mindful of the practices and donation patterns of its business partners and that said partners are held to the same high diversity and inclusion standards of as the rest of the campus community,” the resolution read.
Cal Poly is the only California State University with a Chick-fil-A on campus. The Cal Poly Chick-fil-A is the only location in San Luis Obispo County and was recognized for hitting $2 million in sales in 2018, according to Cal Poly Corporation Communications Specialist Aaron Lambert.
Cal Poly Lead Coordinator of LGBTQ Initiatives Samuel Byrd said this is just one example of moral conflicts in the world.
“I think this is a conversation that had been going on for many years,” Byrd said. “And issues like these are seen in more places outside of this campus as well.”