There is now a movement at the University of Maryland to ban Chick-Fil-A from the food court in the student union building in College Park. At issue: the controversial social and political views of the company's president.
At the flagship campus of the University of Maryland, there are nine different eateries in the food court of the Adelle Stamp Student Union. Chick-Fil-A is one of those eateries, but company president Dan Cathy's public opposition to same-sex marriage (and company donations to conservative Christian groups) has sparked an online petition drive among some College Park students to ask the university to replace the franchise.
"It is kind of a symbol that there are places... everywhere -- that, you know, indirectly... hinder LBGT individuals as second class citizens," explained Rodrigo Lozada, a member of the University of Maryland Pride Alliance. "And, because the university is trying to be a more progressive and inclusive community, that still signals [to me that Chick-Fil-A's presence is] still hindering our progress here at the university."
A quick survey of students eating in the food court found little support for the movement to ban Chick Fil A.
"If the students don't agree with the owner's -- the owner of Chick Fil A's -- ideology, they can choose not to eat there," said Akira Horiguchi, a sophomore.
In an interview, freshman Antonella Perez Ferrero told us: "I just think [Dan Cathy is] entitled to his own opinion. And, not necessarily that I approve of his opinion, but it doesn't really matter what I think. so.... I think the restaurant should stay."
The director of the student union says debate and discussion is expected at the University of Maryland, even over which vendors should be in the food court. But, the political views of the company president are only one factor.
"It happens to be one of the more financially successful vendors in the food court," explained Marsha Guenzler Stevens, the director of the Stamp Student Union. "It also is one of our more popular venues. It was the number-one-rated food court purveyor."
In any case, the contract between the student union and Chick Fil A has a year left on it.
A company statement from Chick-Fil-A says the firm intends to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage in the "government and political" arenas. Chick-Fil-A also says it has an internal policy of treating every person with dignity and respect regardless of that person's race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.