Editorial: Judge a company by its products, not its politics

The decision whether to remove or keep Chick-fil-A on campus should be based off community opinion of the quality of its products, not the personal beliefs of its leaders. Photo illustration by Claire Esparros.
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Forcing out a business because you don’t agree with its political or financial decisions or owners’ moral beliefs is neither a fair nor sustainable practice.

How many shirts do you own from Urban Outfitters? How many pizzas have you ordered from Domino’s since you arrived at Elon University?

You might be surprised to find that executive leaders of each of those companies have donated money to conservative causes. Richard Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters, has donated more than $13,000 to Rick Santorum, a former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan financially supports pro-life organizations such as Right to Life and Operation Rescue.

Both companies are just two of a multitude of prominent businesses that have been criticized for their donations to controversial causes. Businesses like Domino’s and Urban Outfitters and their leaders have been condemned by LGBTQ activists for, according to the Human Rights Campaign, having “donated millions to groups that demonize (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people on a daily basis.”

But here at Elon, only Chick-fil-A has been singled out as a threat to Elon’s non-discrimination policies, despite students patronizing businesses and organizations whose leaders hold views similar to Chick-fil-A’s.

Recent controversy has erupted concerning statements made by Dan Cathy, the president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, regarding marriage and the company’s donations to Exodus International and the Family Research Council, organizations with anti-gay marriage stances.

After Cathy’s declaration, Americans from both ends of the political spectrum turned their attention to Chick-fil-A, bombarding the company with both criticism and praise. The controversy surrounding this statement does not involve the product, but where the customers’ money is going.

The future of Chick-fil-A on campus hangs in the balance. When Cathy first expressed his support for the idea of “traditional marriage,” Elon began considering the removal of Chick-fil-A from campus, according to Smith Jackson, vice president and dean of Student Life.

Recently, Spectrum, Elon’s queer-straight alliance, submitted legislation to the Student Government Association to remove Elon’s Chick-fil-A franchise from campus.
Following a brief suspension of its proposal to further investigate Chick-fil-A’s recent announcement that it would “not … support political or social agendas,” Spectrum’s resolution has been resubmitted for a vote by SGA Oct. 11.

But despite the considerable outcry of student opinion about the propriety of Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus, the university will be the sole party involved in making the final decision.

We acknowledge the intentions of inclusivity behind Spectrum’s proposal. However, we fear the removal of Chick-fil-A from campus would set a dangerous precedent for the university.

People have the right to individually boycott a franchise, but not to enact policy to shut one down and prohibit others from making a choice to patronize it.
It would mark the first step of a slippery slope at Elon for Spectrum or anyone else to suggest the university should sever business ties with any company because of its leaders’ beliefs.

First and foremost, Spectrum should not assume that their beliefs are fundamentally “right, ” while equating those who align with Cathy’s beliefs as “wrong.” There are Elon students who share similar beliefs to those held by Chick-fil-A: How are their beliefs any less valid than Spectrum’s?

This slope would get even slipperier if Chick-fil-A were removed from campus because the university believes it to clash with our policies. We would then be expected to re-evaluate the business practices of every company the university deals with.

If we are so intent on evaluating every business based off their aligning with our non-discrimination policies, then this would be an arduous task.

Kicking Chick-fil-A off campus simply because some of us do not agree with its COO’s beliefs would not paint us as a very open-minded community.

Rather, it sends a message to students that we are, in fact, not free to have our own beliefs. That, by belonging to a university, we are confined to its specifically outlined ideals and principles.

Being a part of the Elon community means we have a responsibility to acknowledge and display tolerance toward those whose ideals may contradict our own. If the only people we are willing to tolerate are those who agree with us, that’s not tolerance.

Consider the examples we mentioned earlier: Are you willing to publicly renounce shopping at Urban Outfitters, or buying pizza at Domino’s, because you don’t like their leaders’ morals?

Because when it comes down to it, who has the right to distinguish the “good” companies from the “bad” companies? The pro-gay rights groups or the abortion protestors? The people who are fighting child slavery, or the people who are disgusted by a company’s environmental practices? Who is actually “right” in this case? And in our particular situation, who should say that gay rights is the foremost issue people should be focusing on while ignoring other businesses’ practices?

Simply put, Cathy has the right to say what he said, and Chick-fil-A has the right to fund groups that oppose gay marriage. And people have the right to make their own decisions to  patronize or boycott the business.

But if we have arrived at the point where students try to petition the power of their government to prevent a business from expanding simply because they disagree with the religious views of its president, we will have finally arrived at the bottom of that slippery slope.

Remember: Discrimination in response to discrimination is still wrong.

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  • Troy Martin

    What a weak & amoral editorial. Communities get to decide the difference between “good” companies and “bad” ones or, more accurately, companies that we do want to support and those that we don’t want to support. Community discusses and deliberates based on values that are important to community members. Would the Pendulum really advocate that a really good football jersey sewn by forced child labor is a good choice for the Elon community?? Like other universities, we would likely disapprove and choose not to support such practices through the power of our purchases. So, lets be a little more honest. It’s not that our values don’t come into play when we spend it our money. Rather, this issue … funding extremist groups who fight lgbtq equality … might not be a “big deal” to the Elon community. Maybe we only say that we value diversity and welcome all people. But, if we have to actually talk about or take action, we don’t really care. That’s disappointing perspective for me to accept from the community’s student newspaper.

  • Lauren Clapp

    Hi there, Lauren Clapp, author of Spectrum’s legislation. I wanted to respond to a few of the arguments you make here in the hopes of clarifying some misconceptions about why Spectrum has decided to move forward with this legislation.

    You’re right, organizations like Urban Outfitters and Dominos are companies that donate money to causes I think are hateful and hurtful; I don’t shop there and I encourage my friends not to either. As you say, “But here at Elon, only CFA has been singled out as a threat to Elon’s non-discrimination policies”. That is because there is a Chick-Fil-A on Elon’s campus. You can bet that if Urban Outfitters or any other anti-LGBTQ group had a physical presence, that our University sent money to that supports causes that hurt LGBTQ people, we would want them off as well.

    I also wanted to define the “hurt” that the anti-LGBTQ groups support by CFA enact. It is NOT as issue of same-sex marriage. Groups like Exodus International support ex-gay reparative therapy, which in some cases involves kidnapping, brainwashing, and always telling the person receiving the therapy (usually a minor) that there is something wrong with them and they are there to be “fixed”. The state of California recently banned the practice, and it has been denounced by various reputable medical professionals. Other groups have lobbied Congress in FAVOR of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Bill, which makes being gay a crime punishable by DEATH. A portion of CFA’s profits go directly to these groups! This is a way more serious issue than same-sex marriage.

    As you say, “people have the right to individually boycott a franchise, but not to enact policy to shut one down”. I would like to remind you that this legislation simply proposes that the administration CONSIDER cutting ties with Chick-Fil-A. We’re not trying to ruin the company as a whole and “shut it down”. Furthermore, you write that “this slope would get even slipperier if CFA were removed from campus because the University believes it to clash with our policies”… but it does clash with our policies. Elon has a non-discrimination statement that includes sexual orientation in “all the operations of its programs”, so the fact that a portion of Elon’s profits are going to CFA clearly violates this policy.

    I want to reiterate again that this legislation is NOT in response to COO Dan Cathy’s remarks about same-sex marriage. It is about a portion of the University’s money being funneled into groups that advocate for the criminalization, marginalization, “fixing”, and death of LGBTQ people. I encourage you to do your own independent research (the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website would be a good place to start- they have information about many of these groups) and to come to the SGA meeting next Thursday at 7:30 where this legislation will be voted on.

    • Jack A.

      I invite you to read all of my Facebook commentary on The Pendulum’s Facebook. It is too arduous to repeat here. September 27th post. I would like your sources as to where Exodus has kidnapped anyone. That is a crime. The people who use these groups are seeking the counseling themselves because there is a contrast between their faith and their attractions. YES, you can have same sex attractions but acting on it is a different topic altogether. (I am trying to stay out of the religious side of this argument). Also, Exodus and FRC both REPUDIATED the Kill the Gays part of the Ugandan legislation. It is a lie and misrepresentation to say that they supported all of the bill when they clearly did not. Also, the SPLC is a biased progressive group who is solely out against right wing and conservative efforts. They are hardly a “standard bearer” for deciding what is or isn’t hate under “their definition.” If you look on Facebook, I cited my sources and did independent research. I invite you to do the same. This is a media storm. Chick FilA ONLY wants to serve good chicken and help their community based on their beliefs. If you want to spend your life boycotting everyone who doesn’t believe exactly as you do, you will spend a life boycotting everyone but yourself. This is America and we are allowed to disagree and everyone is not only allowed the freedom of religion but the “exercise thereof.” I feel the Constitution outrules University policy any day. The article is dead on. The market should decide if Chick FilA stays or goes, not activism.

      • Roger

        -“I would like your sources as to where Exodus has kidnapped anyone.”

        This is somewhat hyperbole but it can be explained as parents who forcibly commit their children to the
        “therapy” Exodus prescribes. In essence they child is taken to a place against their will (see kidnapped) at the behest of their parents.

        -“…people who use these groups are seeking the counseling themselves
        because there is a contrast between their faith and their attractions…”

        If this is all that the organization did it would be fine, but the pseudo-science therapies they have prescribed in the past erase credibility. Some of which have become illegal. It is true they have distanced themselves from these types of “therapies” but they have yet to say what they will replace them with.

        -” Also, Exodus and FRC both REPUDIATED the Kill the Gays part of the Ugandan legislation.”

        True but some time after (Exodus took over a year) to claim these things were bad. The FRC has lobbied for this type of legislation. However after they were outed they did come out against it publicly. It is a lie to say they never supported it.

        -” SPLC is a biased progressive group who is solely out against right wing and conservative efforts.”

        Any organization that tries to take away the rights of individuals because of a character trait is a hate group. The SPLC is right to label it as such. The FRC and Exodus, along with other groups CFA supports, lobby and support legislation to treat people unequally. Imagine if instead of gay people being married they were attempting to outlaw inter-faith marriages or inter-race marriages. It would be considered hate.

        -” If you want to spend your life boycotting everyone who doesn’t believe
        exactly as you do, you will spend a life boycotting everyone but

        Nice straw man.

        -“Chick FilA ONLY wants to serve good chicken and help their community based on their beliefs.”

        While they may want to serve good chicken, they also spread hate under the guise of beliefs. This has been done before when individuals and groups used their beliefs to prop up segregation, block women’s suffrage, and many other things in our past.

        -“This is America and we are allowed to disagree and everyone is not only
        allowed the freedom of religion but the “exercise thereof.””

        The government has no right to restrict the exercise of religion, and no one in the government is stopping anyone from CFA from practicing their religion.

        -“The market should decide if Chick FilA stays or goes, not activism.”

        Activism at it’s core can shift a market. A boycott is the market deciding. If the majority of the population feel that a private organization should not no be affiliated with it, then it can take action.

        • Jack A.

          1. So now parents wanting to exercise their religion and teach their families what the Bible says is kidnapping? Oh how nice. Once again, if you look on Facebook I provided links and sources. Could you do the same? That is what I asked.

          2. Exodus’s mission statement says they administer grace and truth to a world struggling with homosexuality. You don’t want grace and truth? What this really is is a fight against religion! It should be admitted as such.

          3. They did repudiate it though. If you want to deal with “timing”, then why don’t we deal that this whole argument is what Winshape did with their donations in 2010 (2 years ago). Even then, it’s being completely mistranslated. There was no INTENTION of anti-gay!

          4. We will have to disagree because what you see as a chracter trait I see as behavior. WHile one might have same sex attraction, everyone has the ability to use their body in the way they choose. (Therefore making it behavior). It does not change the fact that SPLC is biased politically in their determinations. See Facebook.

          5. It is a true statement that you have dismissed as a straw man. The Nazis also imprisoned people who didn’t believe as the government does. We should allow other beliefs and not repudiate. I’m not denying anyone’s right to exist, do what they want, and eat what they want. This issue is.

          6. I believe the Chick FilA founder operate under a biblical standard, therefore they would not equate a “civil right” with a “moral wrong” as defined by many religions. Therefore, we are not dealing with segregation, women’s suffrage, etc. I don’t see a straight people only line or anyone denied their right to eat by Chick FilA

          7. True that the government isn’t but the claim to remove them from campus because of their beliefs is fundamentally reverse discrimination against their 1st amendment right to free exercise of their religious beliefs.

          8. I agree that the majority market should decide. However, a boycott based upon false information should be revealed.

          Please see my Facebook posts.

          • Zach J

            Excellent Jack. I think this is the the largest piece of the CFA boycott argument that goes most untouched, and in a sense is conceded by CFA supporters by their lack of attention. The continual misrepresentation of these groups as “Hate Groups” is ridiculous and borderlines silly. These groups are not involved in murder nor support cruel punishment, they operate with certain moral convictions on an issue that is still widely debated across the whole of the country. It is totally permissible for a religious organization to have views that are not in favor of homosexuality, and try to council people out of a homesexual lifestyle. You can not take religion out of the equation, it’s impossible. Whether you agree or disagree with what they are counseling, what they are doing is nothing near to barbaric or hateful. Are people really willing to make the argument that what these groups are doing is criminal? Illegal? Give me a break.

      • Britney

        Basically, all your “facts” that you’ve presented are media bias. You should stop thinking you’re the authority on this, because you’re not. At all.

  • Kirstin Ringelberg

    I love a good argument, and I’m totally fine with people disagreeing with me and voicing those disagreements loudly. But as a college professor, I feel forced to say this about this conversation we’ve been having as a community: a good argument requires that you actually listen to what is being said by your opponent. I’ve been interviewed by the Pendulum and so have many of the Spectrum students. NOT ONCE have we said we want CFA gone because Dan Cathy is against same-sex marriage. Please stop deflecting the real issue (CFA gives a portion of its profits to registered hate groups and is the only private franchise on Elon’s campus, so their presence here suggests Elon as a community supports such practices) and actually listen to the position Spectrum is taking, then argue against that. Some folks have–we have heard “yeah but it’s not much money” and “I think corporations should be able to distribute their profits any way they want and be on Elon’s campus if we like their product more than we care about the rights of the minority groups they discriminate against”. Fair enough. Those are statements that address our arguments. But enough with the “Dan Cathy has the right to free speech” argument–we never said he didn’t, and frankly I would fight for his right to that free speech. Stop avoiding the real issue: Elon says in its non-discrimination policy that it will not abide discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. CFA practices such discrimination in their corporate philanthropy–openly and in a documented fashion. Do we as a community like these particular chicken sandwiches so much that we are willing to overlook that violation of our policy, or might we be open to considering a different corporate franchise on this campus–one that does not have these violations in their record?

  • http://twitter.com/robwoh Robert Wohner

    This argument is said with great clarity and I appreciated that about this editorial. But the ideas are somewhat sobering. The Pendulum has accepted the idea that debating issues regarding the emotional and physical health of gays is still a legitimate discussion. Which says something about the values of the community. And like so many collective responses to “minority” groups on campus raising issues important to them, the response feels like an articulate version of “Get over it.” I agree that there is an arbitrary component to deciding with companies are “good” and “bad”. Personally, I’m less interested in making those kind of judgments. But the difference, when asking about if Elon should remove Chickfila, is this: why does Chickfila have exclusive access to make political statements on campus? If the university was approached by another food chain who marketed itself as “pro-gay marriage”, it’s almost forced to give it a place on campus now, otherwise they’d be giving preferential treatment to one voice. Elon Dining doesn’t want to make decisions based on politics. They shouldn’t be forced to make that decision. Plus, the Pendulum is making an argument that Chickfila themselves do not make. They want and market the consumption of their product as a political statement. Every Sunday, when Chickfila closes, that’s a statement too. Elon is giving them that access. I think it’s a beautiful thing that they shut down. But using your logic, other corporations have to be given their chance to make such statements. Which is logistically impossible. Taking the moral arguments out of the discussion, once Chickfila decided to make consumption of their goods a political statement, it should be removed.

  • John Pickett

    In my opinion, providing funding to
    organizations that work to actively suppress a minority group is just plain
    wrong. More importantly, that course of
    action conflicts with Elon University’s #1 stated goal; “an unprecedented
    commitment to diversity”. How can we achieve this goal if we are
    knowingly partnering with a company who is actively participating in the
    oppression of a minority group? Dan Cathy can have any opinion or belief.
    No one has argued against his freedom of speech. The issue is the funding
    of “hate groups” by the company. The funds that Elon University
    give to Chic-fil-a are used to support oppression. It doesn’t matter how
    much money they donate to these groups, or how little…on a matter of
    principle and integrity, Chic-fil-a should be gone from Elon’s Campus.
    Would we support a company that gave funding to oppress Latinos,
    African-Americans, women, Christians, etc? I don’t think we would. Why? Because
    it’s WRONG. Chic-fil-a’s presence on campus undermines the University’s policy
    on celebrating diversity.

  • Rachel L

    I am surprised to see this in the Pendulum, and disappointed. This is such a weak argument and one that has been repeated multiple times already – this is not worth publishing, in my personal opinion. To the writer – please read the comments and think about the position you hold and are representing as a writer for our newspaper.

  • I Don’t Need Your Chicken

    I love how when conservative groups like the Million Moms or whatever they’re called boycott and protest JCPenney, Oreo, Target, etc that its all about free speech, but when it comes to Chick-fil-a and their conservative, harmful views it’s about us trying to limit their rights as a business, etc. Come on!

    • CO

      The right to boycott is something that should not be argued with – and the students and faculty/staff on Elon’s campus should have the right to boycott Chick-fil-A as individuals, as was stated in the editorial. However, it is when steps are taken to remove a franchise from a campus or area, thereby forcing EVERYONE to not patronize it, that a problem is created.

      • Sarah

        A removal would not be forcing people not to patronize Chick-Fil-A. There’s a Chick-Fil-A that’s a 5 minute drive from campus and accessible by BioBus. You can still patronize Chick-Fil-A all you want if the chicken is that important to you. It’s a matter of removing a company from campus that doesn’t align with Elon’s non-discrimination policy.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com PolishBear

    It’s one thing to say you support “traditional marriage.” After all, who DOESN’T? I have lots of Straight (i.e. heterosexual) friends, some married and some single, and if any of the singles finds a compatible person of the opposite sex to marry and make a solemn commitment to, no one will be happier than me.

    But it is quite another thing to donate millions of dollars per year in company profits to organizations who work specifically to deny law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the same legal benefits and protections that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

    I know a lot of people love the food at Chick-fil-A, but they also support their Gay friends, family members and co-workers, so much so that they have chosen to no longer eat there.

  • Brittany Moore

    This is one of the more uneducated editorials Pendulum has decided to publish. I understand that people have opinions, however I would have hoped that a newspaper would publish a viable opinion with real fact as back up, but that is obviously not the case in this article.

    You cannot make a connection between Urban Outfitters, Dominoes and CFA. Is there an on-campus Dominoes or Outfitters? No. Therefore the connection between the the stores is irrelevant (like Lauren Clapp mentioned below). Also to assume the same people against CFA haven’t boycotted the other stores is ignorant, because most people who are aware have been. I haven’t purchased anything from stores that have these kind of corporate funding ties.

    People are obviously not listening to any of the Spectrum interviews or facts stated in any other response to articles like this one. Its futile to get ANYWHERE when people simply aren’t listening!

    I appreciate a good debate and argument, but my emphasis in place on ‘good’. This is an issue of discrimination over A CHICKEN SANDWICH that you can purchase in the main franchise just down the road! Elon is NOT a public establishment therefore it can choose to get rid of on-site outside franchises that are in direct conflict of its mission if it chooses.

    • Jack A.

      Read my posts on Facebook if you appreciate a GOOD debate, because I have backed up everything with SOURCES!

    • Dan Quackenbush

      Ms. Moore,

      While I disagree with your overall opinion of the merits of the editorial, I will start by saying that I understand and respect your right to have it. However, to blatantly label the collective opinion of an entire campus news organization as “uneducated” is unnecessarily contemptuous. There are a few issues with your stance that I feel compelled to bring to your attention.
      In response to your first and third points, in what way is the Pendulum’s stance on this issue, or on their coverage of the ongoing Chick-fil-A debate on campus, not viable or educated? If you took the time to peruse the website, you would have found that the Pendulum has lent extensive coverage of the Spectrum proposal process, as well as having published multiple letters to the editor from Spectrum. We incorporated all the student feedback we received from our social media accounts as well as our campus-wide survey into the final draft of the editorial. We have considered all the relevant facts at our disposal, so for you to claim that we have no basis or consideration toward factual reporting and editorializing represents not our failure, but yours. Your failure to accurately account for the depth of coverage and information available to and published by the Pendulum in response to this issue.
      In respect to your second point, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, there is in a fact a correlation between CFA, Dominos and Urban Outfitters. While obviously the latter of the three does not maintain an on-campus presence, Domino’s is a widely-patronized restaurant for Elon students, and they have ties with the university in the sense that they have a legal agreement to accept Phoenix Cash as legal tender for the products they provide.
      Furthermore, when you make the statement that “to assume the same people against CFA haven’t boycotted the other stores is ignorant, because most people who are aware have been. I haven’t purchased anything from stores that have these kind of corporate funding ties,” it brings additional inconsistencies in your argument. We made absolutely no assumptions or assertions that any opponents of CFA have not already boycotted the franchise or similar establishments.
      “Because most people who are aware have been”: this sentence in and of itself smacks of ignorance. Here you are drastically generalizing and misrepresenting the opinions of those you are attempting to defend. Just because a person does not necessarily agree with the statements made by Chick-fil-A does not mean that they are thus automatically expected or required to boycott the franchise itself. I have several friends on campus who are outspoken activists for LGBTQ rights (both heterosexual and homosexual) who still choose to patronize CFA and businesses like them based on their personal preference and belief system.
      On a side note, I applaud your fiscal meticulousness and commitment to only patronizing businesses that coincide with your personal beliefs: that requires considerable dedication and committed research, practices that are increasingly rare these days.

      • Brittany Moore

        You misunderstood my post. I was only stating that I was disappointed in the article the Pendulum chose to publish that was written for that side of the article because I feel as though there must be other well-written and more credible arguments that could be posted, which others have agreed with in this comment thread.
        I don’t know what Pendulum’s stance is, as I am assuming they shouldn’t have a solid stance either way in order to ensure educated and unbiased reporting, am I correct? I simply meant that I would have rather seen a better article written by a student who supports CFA.
        Does that make more sense?
        I apologize for the generalizations I’ve made that seem to offend you or smack you with ignorance. I was angry when I posted it because of the general opinions made, and must have been less politically correct, though I have to admit that the article made sweeping generalizations as well. Not that either of those points make it correct, it did happen on both accounts.
        I do think that *MOST* people who are truly aware of the situation and of other franchises’ support of anti-civil rights organizations are boycotting the establishments because freedom from oppression should be more important than a chicken sandwich. however it seems that I am increasingly alone in this sentiment.

      • Jack A.

        Dan, I would encourage you to read my source information on The Pendulum Facebook. This whole argument has been media fabricated. Chick FilA didnt make themselves the hero or the martyr, the media did. (Extreme left and right groups). They just want to serve chicken and NOT politicize!

  • http://www.facebook.com/saj0215 Samantha Jones

    I’ve stated my opinions on the Facebook page, but I find this article embarrassing, ignorant and poorly researched. The connections and claims the author makes are inaccurate. The author does not address the issues being presented by Spectrum and instead make them feel like they need to shut up and get over it. This is not an issue of free speech, it’s an issue of a corporation-the only private corporation on our campus-directly funding hate groups which discriminate against homosexuality throughout the WORLD. Nothing to do with equal rights even (which shouldn’t even be an issue, that’s why rights are rights, you shouldn’t have to fight for them), but with flat out HATE. By purchasing from them and the university keeping their presence on campus we then say we support this funding, and we ourselves will donate to it. How embarrassing. Shame on you.

    • Dan Quackenbush

      “it’s an issue of a corporation-the only private corporation on our campus”…Correct me if I’m wrong, but what about Aramark?

  • Lizzy Appleby

    I am confused and frustrated by this editorial.
    While I agree that individuals have a right to free speech and to
    patronize whatever businesses they choose, the issue in this case is not
    personal rights. If individuals want to patronize CFA on their own time
    and own dollar, that is their choice and their right. I choose not to,
    because of the evidence that they provide funding to organizations that I do
    not support (the same applies to Domino’s or Urban Outfitters).

    The issue at
    stake here is about which businesses Elon University chooses to contract with.
    Elon already has a policy in place that states it does not discriminate
    based on sexual orientation (among other things). As quoted in Spectrum’s
    SGA bill, “the Elon University Non-Discrimination Policy states that: ‘The
    university does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, creed, sex,
    national or ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or
    veteran’s status in the recruitment and admission of students, the recruitment
    and employment of faculty and staff, or THE OPERATION OF ANY OF ITS
    PROGRAMS'” (emphasis added). By attending this university, we as
    students have already given our implicit consent of this policy. This is clear
    in the disciplinary sanctions that students who break this policy (by using
    slurs or discriminating in other ways) can face (if you disagree with that,
    it’s a different issue). By continuing the relationship with CFA, Elon
    University is acting against its own policy.

    I see that
    it was pointed out in some of the other comments that Elon contracts with other
    companies that do not live up to Elon values (Aramark could be one example).
    I agree. This is wrong, and there are other universities who have
    ended contracts with companies like Aramark for these reasons. While it
    would challenging to sever ties with all corporations that do not live up to
    Elon’s Non-Discrimination Policy, that does not mean that it is impossible, or
    that it should not be done.

    conclusion, this conversation is about congruence with policies that already
    exist. Elon has already stated its values, whether you paid attention or
    not. This conversation is about Elon walking its talk, and not giving
    money to companies that act against an existing non-discrimination policy.

    • James1754

      So we discriminate against one group in favor of another group. Liberalism at it’s best.

  • m.m.

    First, let’s look at “hate groups.” Chick-Fil-A never donated a cent to Exodus international or the FRC. A charity founded by members of the Truett family that is run independently from Chick-Fil-A donated to Ecodus and FRC; WinShape, the charity in question, donated a whopping $1000 to Exodus and $1000 to the FRC, the so called hate groups, as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center. As Mac said below, the Chick-Fil-A on campus has never refused service based on sexual orientation or gender-identity, nor has any off-campus Chick-Fil-A ever done so, even though it would be perfectly legal for them to refuse to hire/serve individuals based upon sexual orientation. Furthermore, plenty of corporations contracted by Elon donate directly to organizations that many members of the University Community find appalling. Barnes & Noble, for example, donates to groups that are pro-abortion. Belk Inc, the corporation for which our library is named, donates thousands of dollars to individuals and groups that have opposed Elon’s espoused values. The point is, Chick-Fil-A did not directly donate to Exodus and the FRC, and even if they did, is that discrimination? Chick-Fil-A is just speaking up for what they, and a large portion of Americans, view as right and moral. Maybe a better solution would be for the University to allow students who are anti-Chick-Fil-A to opt out of the meal plan rather than expelling a corporation from campus for exercising their God given right to speech.

  • Brian Gilbert

    This controversy is an example of competing values at stake. Is the non-discrimination of businesses at an institution (in this case private, meaning not financed by tax payers) more important than upholding a institutional policy which all students give their implicit consent? I argue the latter is more important, which then brings up the inevitable question of what accounts as discrimination. In this case Chick-fil-A is not discriminating among its patrons but it does provide money to groups that promote hate crimes and discrimination. In this way Chick-fil-A is still guilty by way of its business practices (i.e. its company’s expenditures), even though they are not represented in the form of choosing their customers or some in other conspicuous way. Often the worst things go unseen.

    And the idea that liberals are only tolerant of those with identical views is a null argument because we as Americans are not tolerant of certain behaviors or thoughts, even though they are protected by the Bill of Rights. Think of how many ways freedom of speech is limited in public spaces (ex. billboards, public sex acts)? The question becomes what values are more important in one given situation, which in this case means community values.

    It is important to remember that all law and policy is discriminatory in some fashion, but how we arrive at those policies is determined by ethical values and moral philosophy, etc. We have chosen as a society to discriminate against people younger than sixteen from getting driver’s licenses, but we do so in order to protect the lives of other drivers and the kids themselves. And to be fair, not all community values can be good (think of Nazi Germany), but the inclusivity of historically oppressed group in society is hardly threatening or ill-conceived.

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