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BY LAEL HINES | “It’s almost just funny at this point. I think it’s ironic,” said one N.Y.U. sophomore.
The student was referring to the ongoing issue of the Chick-fil-A outlet in the Weinstein Hall food court at New York University.
In June 2012, the fried chicken chain’s C.E.O., Dan Cathy, made a series of homophobic statements opposing same-sex marriage. Chick-fil-A’s charitable enterprises have also been linked to political organizations that oppose L.G.B.T. rights.
Then, last week, after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Cathy disapprovingly tweeted, “Sad day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: cornerstone of strong societies.”
The tweet was later deleted.
Chick-fil-A’s presence at N.Y.U., in the heart of the historically liberal and tolerant Village, is certainly ironic, many may even say, unfortunate.
The main school year is over, but many students are still around for the summer, and more than a few are hungrily chowing down on the politically incorrect pollo.
But others have had it with the controversial KFC competitor.
“I think it’s pathetic, I think it should be shut down,” said N.Y.U. student Wes Middleton.
Two students from Brazil likewise expressed their hostility toward the Chick-fil-A.
“It doesn’t sound right that in a university with an L.G.B.T.Q. center there is also a Chick-fil-A,” said one of them.
His friend commented, “The Chick-fil-A plays against the image of the university. It doesn’t make sense to have a business like that on campus.”
Despite the Chick-fil-A president’s conservative views on gay marriage and many students’ issues with that, the chicken outlet in the Weinstein food court remains popular and seemingly unaffected by the hoopla.
In a statement, N.Y.U. said, “The university is well known for its strong and longstanding support for the L.G.B.T. community, and N.Y.U. voluntarily provided partner benefits long before it was legally required.
“The status of Chick-fil-A at N.Y.U. has been a topic of discussion in the past because of comments by the company’s leadership. But last year, after deliberating on the matter, the Student Senators Council said N.Y.U. should not consider banning Chick-fil-A because, in the words of their statement, ‘To ban any entity from campus for ideological reasons is, in most every case, to limit freedom of expression.’ That statement expresses the general sentiment of the university community.”
In response to the N.Y.U. statement, student Middleton said, “The First Amendment is messy. Yeah, it’s the truth. You know you can’t talk about freedom of speech without allowing Nazis to march down the street in uniform because our laws protect them, too. It’s the same thing with homophobes.
“America’s firm policy is people should be allowed to express themselves no matter who they are or what they think.”
Apparently, students are just too apathetic to bother about Chick-fil-A’s problematic politics, and are mainly in a hurry to get their chicken sandwiches.
“With students, the idea is they are not going to waste their time,” said Middleton. “The Chick-fil-A isn’t hurting anyone within N.Y.U. with their ignorance. Until they start hurting people in some way, people aren’t going to be up in arms about it.”
Jessie, another N.Y.U. student, from New Orleans, said, “Most of my friends don’t have an opinion on it. People outside of N.Y.U. create most of the hoopla surrounding it. Most people at N.Y.U. are disenchanted with the level of the administration and they don’t see it worth protesting. Chick-fil-A is low down on the list of people’s priorities.”
The resulting question is whether hostilities against the Chick-Fil-A will grow enough to motivate stronger student action.
“Not anytime soon,” predicted Middleton. “Maybe eventually — N.Y.U.’s all about change.”