Keep Chick-fil-A away
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, July 1, 2021
A few weeks ago, Notre Dame Campus Dining revealed that it is considering the addition of a Chick-fil-A on campus as part of its “retail dining master plan.” While Chick-fil-A’s popularity on Notre Dame’s campus often goes unchallenged, we think it’s time to change that. We have serious ethical concerns regarding Chick-fil-A and believe that a variety of other restaurants would better fit Notre Dame’s mission and our student body’s needs. If you are thoroughly persuaded, please sign our open letter to Campus Dining opposing Chick-fil-A. In addition, call on student and faculty leaders to stop catering Chick-fil-A at campus events.
Our first concern relates to Chick-fil-A’s long history of antagonism toward the LGBTQ+ community. Over the past two decades, Chick-fil-A has donated significant sums to groups that oppose LGBTQ+ rights. From 2003 to 2012, the restaurant’s charitable arm gave over $5 million to queerphobic groups, including groups supporting conversion therapy. Despite public outcry and promises to halt anti-LGBTQ+ donations, in 2017 the donations to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations resumed, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Salvation Army.
In addition, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, who boasts a net worth of over $8 billion, pours his personal funds into anti-LGBTQ+ causes. To this day, Cathy continues to donate to the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF). In a highly un-Christian manner, the NCF funds hate groups and legal cases aimed at stripping queer people of their rights. Even though Chick-fil-A has halted the worst of its donations, patronizing Chick-fil-A means lining Cathy’s pockets. Cathy has unapologetically broadcasted his homophobic views, and unfortunately his regressive leadership defines Chick-fil-A. The Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBTQ+ nonprofit, gave Chick-fil-A a “0” on its Corporate Equality Index due to the company’s lack of protections and healthcare for queer employees.
Secondly, as a fast food restaurant, Chick-fil-A depends heavily on participation in animal agriculture. While people may choose to eat animal products for various reasons, factory farming is a deplorable system that Notre Dame should aim to avoid supporting. Not only do factory-farmed animals suffer brutal lives filled with abuse and cruelty, but the workers (generally low-income) endure stressful shifts and exposure to workplace hazards like airborne diseases.
Furthermore, animal agriculture is environmentally unsustainable. North America has an obsession with meat like no other country on Earth and it is helping destroy the planet. Factory farming creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as the entire transportation industry. The industry is largely unregulated, pollutes the surrounding environment and indirectly ravages our land due to the great amount of feed the animals require. Even worse, the burden of this industry tends to fall on marginalized communities, whose property values decline and whose quality of life erodes in relation to their proximity to industrial animal agriculture.
Finally, Chick-fil-A is simply not a great restaurant for Notre Dame, and there is no need for another fast food restaurant on campus. Consisting primarily of fried chicken and potatoes, the menu at Chick-fil-A does not supply an array of options suitable for a diverse campus community. Vegetarians and vegans, a growing minority of the student body, would receive little benefit from a fried chicken restaurant. Also, a restaurant closed on Sundays is not best for a bustling, hungry college campus.
Chick-fil-A is not the answer; there are better alternatives that would both enhance the array of on-campus dining options and support the well-being of an increasingly diverse student body. For example, CoreLife Eatery has a menu of exciting, healthy and tasty options, with locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. Or Campus Dining could branch out into other cuisines, such as Indian or a proper Mexican restaurant. There are endless alternative possibilities.
We are always excited to see Campus Dining looking for ways to improve students’ eating experience at Notre Dame. They have gone above and beyond this past year, providing impressive, themed dinners and an excellent vegan line in the dining halls. We know that Campus Dining values student input, so please amplify our cause by signing our open letter and sharing it with your friends. If the opportunity arises, tell your student leaders and department heads about the negative impact of catering Chick-fil-A. We hope that this will be the start of a conversation about fulfilling students’ desires while also considering the ethics of what we consume.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.