Students react to Chick-fil-A’s presence in Revolve

Photo+credit%3A+Andrea+Nebhut

Photo credit: Andrea Nebhut

Illustration by Andrea Nebhut

Chick-fil-A is the most lucrative option at Trinity’s Revolve concept in Coates Student Center. However, some students disagree with the company’s beliefs.

Chick-fil-A is vocal about its Christian affiliation and the religious values it upholds. Because of these beliefs, the company has a history of support for anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, conversion therapy and other forms of discrimination. Last year, the university decided to include Chick-fil-A in its Revolve concept, which has led students to criticize the hypocrisy of the university’s promotion of allyship and inclusivity.

“Trinity has an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and when they continue to have Chick-fil-A at Revolve, that kind of sends the opposite message, so whether it’s Trinity continuing to have it at Revolve or us using our Tiger Bucks there, we are by fact also donating to anti-LGBTQIA organizations just as much as Chick-fil-A does,” said sophomore Claire Carlson. “I think that if Trinity wants to say that they’re a university that cares about diversity and inclusion, then they have to care about specific instances such as this, and if they don’t want to deal with things that seem too small for them to care about, then they don’t get to promote themselves as a university that focuses on those ideals.”

According to students who are upset about the inclusion of the company, the situation dismisses any progress that has been made in terms of allyship and support.

“I think that the presence of Chick-fil-A is a troubling and divisive issue for the campus,” wrote first-year Steven Drake, PRIDE community liaison, in an email interview. “Trinity and its community strive for diversity and allyship, so in contrast, the inclusion of Chick-fil-A on campus undermines our progress towards a more inclusive community and weakens the bar that students and the university have set for ourselves.”

Some students suggest the university remove Chick-fil-A from Revolve as an easy solution. According to David Tuttle, dean of students, it’s not that simple.

“At some point the question becomes, ‘How much control does the university have? How far does that go?’ I think universities have to understand — and students need to understand this, too — we need to not rob our students of the educational experiences of debating these issues and these topics,” Tuttle said. “I don’t think that a majority of students, based on sales, are against Chick-fil-A, which is why I think we would want more thoughtful student discussion about whether they want Chick-fil-A or not.”

Some students, however, feel differently. Junior Kit Alderson related it to another experience he had recently.

“I bought three boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year, and I recently learned from a friend that they may donate to some organization that I don’t really agree with, so I was like, ‘Oh well thats kind of a bummer. Oh well, I have three boxes of Girl Scout cookies,’ ” Alderson said. “I think it’s important to worry to a degree. Now that I know about it, I probably should investigate it, but I’m not gonna feel super guilty about eating these cookies that I already bought.”

The response to Chick-fil-A isn’t happening just at Trinity. Last month, San Antonio’s City Council voted against keeping Chick-fil-A in the concessions contract for the San Antonio International Airport.

Members of Trinity’s chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) protested this decision with a social event held at a local Chick-fil-A franchise. In an email to their members, YCT wrote that they would eat at the restaurant “to show [their] support for a business’s right to donate to whichever organizations it wants to.”

These organizations include the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, all of which support anti-LBGTQ+ discrimination and conversion therapy.

Junior Isaiah Mitchell, president of YCT, explained why the campus organization decided to arrange this social.

“We’re not a religious group, but obviously, we stand for religious freedom. We support the right of businesses to donate to whichever businesses they want to, and furthermore, we do have a large Christian population in the club, as a lot of people would expect,” Mitchell said. “It becomes really easy at this point to misconstrue historically, soundly Christian belief on sexuality as something offensive or oppressive because the goal posts have kind of moved on what is accepted sexually and what isn’t and what’s acceptable to talk about on that topic.”

Mitchell explained that the role of the social was to be supportive of the constitutional right to freedom of religion. He emphasized that the social was not intended to be an act against the LGBTQ+ population at Trinity or elsewhere.

“At this point, any objection to homosexuality or preference of heterosexuality over homosexuality can, on a campus like this, become something much more radical than its really intended to be,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s something that people overreact to something that’s very orthodox Christian teaching, and on top of that, people misconstrue that teaching on that topic with the hatred of the people involved. In Christianity there’s an important distinction between sin and people. You’re supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin.”

Carlson disagrees.

“I think that when your religion’s views kind of go against someone’s identity, there’s an issue there,” Carlson said. “I think you need to reevaluate your religion and how you view people if you’re not viewing them as people anymore. In that sense, I do agree that religious freedom is important, but its important to a certain extent, and you don’t get to value your personal beliefs over someone else’s existence.”

Mitchell emphasized that YCT is not a hate group or an anti-LGBTQ+ organization; rather, the members intend to uphold constitutional values.

“We’re a really big umbrella, especially at Trinity, which is so small. We have gay members. We can’t be an anti-gay group, and we’re not. Our values are pretty broad, just surrounding freedom and the preservation of the values of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and beyond that, there’s not much that’s too specific,” Mitchell said. “Naturally, we have a lot of people who are traditionalists when it comes to sexuality but we also have homosexual members who are also traditionalist, but they separate that from their personality, and we have people who are very libertarian about it, and they’re cool with gay marriage.”

According to Mitchell, criticizing Chick-fil-A for its donations is a stretch.

“Our support for Chick-fil-A was not necessarily a support for the groups that they donate to. That’s going a little far down the chain,” Mitchell said. “We really were just standing up in support of religious freedom and not getting too specific into the history of Chick-fil-A’s donations. That’s a little bit too specific for what we were trying to do.”

According to sophomore Lisa Vetyuhova, this approach is lazy.

“We’re constantly bombarded with information. Blatant information, social media and otherwise. We have open access to information. You can keep up with literally everything,” Vetyuhova said. “It’s a matter of where your morals lie, where your heart belongs and what you’re willing to fight for.”

As for the university’s decision to have Chick-fil-A in Coates, Vetyuhova has the same response.

“It’s clear that they choose this passive stance on LGBT rights because it’s just not convenient for them to fight for it,” Vetyuhova said. “They don’t want to expend the energy. It’s easy when you’re not impacted by that issue, and the issue of being an ally is constant. You can’t pick and choose what you fight for.”

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