Chil-Fil-A at Cal Poly. Credit: Rachel Arabia / Mustang News

Students from various campus communities including the Trans & Queer Student Union gathered in sharing their thoughts on the reinstallation of Chick-Fil-A on campus, with the anticipation of Cal Poly’s new dining structure 1901 Marketplace opening next school year. 

“Cal Poly is only supportive of us in words, but their actions tell us a different story,” read a letter from sociology student Sydney Lehr at Tuesday’s ASI Board of Directors meeting. The meeting took place in the UU at 5:10 p.m. last Tuesday and ran nearly three hours. 

Many people that were unable to make the meeting sent in their thoughts regarding Chick-Fil-A and Cal Poly Corporation’s decision of keeping it on campus with their five year contract coming to an end next month. 

The proposition came into fruition through the efforts of College of Liberal Arts Representative Alexandria Raynes, CAFES Representative and ASI presidential candidate Samuel Andrews, ASI Secretary of Accessibility Regina Hockert and biochemistry student Jaenine Santos. 

The idea first ignited in May 2019 when Academic Senate Vice Chair Thomas Gutierrez wrote a letter urging the Cal Poly Corporation to “sever ties with the organization,” according to a 2019 resolution d0cument.

Prior to this, Chick-Fil-A was a dining option on campus for 25 years. At the time, Cal Poly Corporation had just signed a five-year contract extension with the company renewing their service at The Avenue. This would indicate a reevaluation of the contract this year. 

The academic senate voted on removing the restaurant from campus and ended up proceeding with a winning vote of 38 out of 44 individuals. Following this vote, Cal Poly Spokesperson Matt Lazier sent two statements to KSBY stating the difficulty with removing Chick-Fil-A from campus.  

In his initial statement, he addressed that Cal Poly Corporation does not tolerate the behavior and views held by some of the organizations the president of Chick-Fil-A has donated to.

Despite this, the statement read, “University administration’s disagreement with the political views of a given business owner does not give the university license to effectively censor that business and prohibit it from continuing to operate at the university.”

He later clarified with KSBY that the school does not, “believe in responding to intolerance with intolerance,” and that they must model their values of inclusion to uphold the rights of those with other perspectives.  

The academic senate vote in 2019 struck the initial lobbying for the removal of Chick-Fil-A but was seemingly shut down as a new pop-up location of the restaurant opened up in January 2022 at Poly Canyon Village. 

The end of the five-year extended contract is coming up in May, which prompted members of the community to revisit the proposal to remove Chick-Fil-A from Cal Poly’s campus once and for all.

Political science senior Alexandria Raynes spearheaded the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting by introducing the cause to the board members. 

“We are at a moment in our history as a nation,” they said in an address to the board. “This year marks the fourth consecutive year in a row that record breaking number of anti-queer and anti-trans laws have been considered in the United States.”

Raynes added,  “As of right now we are sitting at just under 500 Anti-trans laws that are being considered this year alone. Including one being considered in California that forces teachers to out students to their parents. These laws don’t just happen. They are part of a wide multibillion dollar campaign across the nation to restrict the rights and freedoms of trans and queer people.”

They then explained that, though Chick-Fil-A is a popular restaurant on campus, the right thing isn’t always the popular thing to do. Cal Poly choosing not to do business with Chick-Fil-A would not be censorship, but according to a speaker at the open forum, “refusal to support human rights violations”. 

ASI presidential candidate Jake Zylstra also spoke at the forum, stating, “I think it’s incredibly important that we keep Chick-Fil-A on campus because it’s about Christian-owned businesses.”

The open forum prompted a short discussion within the board of directors considering both sides of the argument — censorship of a person’s values versus how those values are harmful to people on campus. 

After both the discussion and deliberations from within the board of directors, the vote took place. The board counted only two opposing votes for the proposition, passing the proposition on behalf of ASI. 

The vote will not officially remove Chick-fil-A from campus, but is a step toward encouraging Cal Poly Corporation CEO Cody VanDorn to sever ties with the food vendor, according to an email from Raynes to Mustang News.

The next Academic Senate meeting will be on May 9. Visit to see previous meeting agendas.

Correction, April 30: This article was updated to change the link to the 2019 resolution document. The headline and article was also updated to better reflect that Cal Poly has not yet severed ties with Chick-fil-A, a decision that is ultimately up to the Cal Poly Corp.