President Armstrong said an Academic Senate resolution in support of kicking Chick-Fil-A off campus over their support for anti-gay causes represents a “slippery slope.”
“Who decides what values?” Armstrong said. “Who decides what’s bad? What’s the next topic? What’s the next company? Are we going to expect the [Cal Poly] Corporation to investigate, look at every company? Where do we draw the line? It’s a very slippery slope.”
Armstrong spoke at the April 30 Academic Senate meeting discussing whether or not the university should terminate their Chick-Fil-A contract because of donations to anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
Some members of the Academic Senate said a line should be drawn at working with companies who contrast with campus values. Physics professor Thomas Gutierrez, who wrote a resolution to tell the Cal Poly Corporation to terminate the Chick-Fil-A contract, said he believes Chick-Fil-A’s corporate values run contrary to Cal Poly’s values.
The proposed resolution would not terminate the contract itself, only recommend Cal Poly Corporation do so, because the franchise is out of the Academic Senate’s jurisdiction.
“We are under no obligation to do business with or provide a store front to all viewpoints. By financially benefiting from and contributing to organizations that passively or directly promote intolerance, we too are promoting intolerance,” Gutierrez said.
The resolution was not voted on and will return at the Academic Senate meeting May 7 and possibly May 21.
Chick-Fil-A did not immediately respond to an email for comment.
News website ThinkProgress reported Chick-Fil-A donated $1.6 million in 2017 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for summer camps, an organization which bars its employees from homosexual acts. They also donated $6,000 to Paul Anderson Youth Homes, a residential home for teens that teaches that same-sex marriage is “rage against Jesus Christ,” according to ThinkProgress. Chick-Fil-A donated $10.8 million dollars total in 2017.
The Cal Poly Chick-Fil-A recently received an award for reaching $2 million in sales in 2018. Cal Poly’s Chick-Fil-A was one of the top 52 sales-generating locations out of 362 nationwide.
“Sure, they make a delicious sandwich, but their corporate values are ugly and retrograde,” Orfalea College of Business Librarian Mark Bieraugel said at the Academic Senate meeting. “Every time I walk up from the library to the [University Union], I know Chick-Fil-A is there. And I know Cal Poly is endorsing their hate against me as a person.”
Other members of the LGBTQ+ community on campus also see the franchise as Cal Poly’s lack of support for their community, Bieraugel said.
Armstrong said students can go to the Board of Trustees or boycott Chick-Fil-A but that he did not feel comfortable deciding to terminate the contract for another food option.
“Cal Poly is a public university,” Armstrong said. “We are a branch of state government, and that places certain limits on what we can do.”
California law already prohibits state money from paying for travel to states that discriminate on sexual orientation.
“California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” California Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (a)(5) reads.