A petition is demanding that Youngstown State University the Chick-fil-A on campus, saying access to late-night chicken “adds to the negative experience of LGBT students.”
Noting that the Chick-fil-A is “the only place to get food in the evenings,” the Change.org petition complains that while the restaurant chain has apologized for “statements by its founders regarding members of the LGBT community,” the business “is still donating money to anti-LGBT organizations.”
“Youngstown State has a very low campus pride rating as it is,” the petition notes, observing that Youngstown State has a three star rating.
The Campus Pride Index (CPI), a metric that purports to rate LGBTQ campus life, describes itself on its website as “a vital tool for assisting campuses in learning ways to improve their LGBTQ campus life and ultimately shape the educational experience to be more inclusive, welcoming and respectful of LGBTQ and ally people.”
According to the petition, the university offers “little [sic] accommodations for transgender students when it comes to getting their names changed in the system or living in appropriate dorms, and the only LGBT group on campus gets almost no visibility.”
Worse still, from the petitioner’s perspective, is the fact that administrators have in the past “allowed anti-LGBT speakers on campus and did nothing about it when students complained,” though the petition does not specify what the school should have done to mollify its LGBT community in those cases.
“The fact that the only restaurant they have open during the evenings is a notoriously anti-LGBT restaurant only adds to the negative experience of LGBT students on campus,” the petition concludes.
“Obviously, replacing Chick-fil-A would not change the company’s views or anything, but it would be an act of solidarity for the campus's LGBT students.”
Emmett Ray, the petition’s author, explained that the anti-LGBT speakers referenced in the petition were “preachers with big signs condemning LGBT people,” and that he wished the university would “actually have security kick them out when people report them.”
Ray told Campus Reform that he wants Chick-Fil-A to be replaced “because Chick-fil-A is notoriously run by homophobes,” adding, “my goal with the petition was more to start a discussion than actually get Chick-fil-A closed.”
Several individuals voiced their support in comments, including at least one faculty member.
“Time for these people grow up and accept what is and move forward living life and stop hating and spread more love,” one said, while another asserted that, “The choice of Chick-fil-a by Pres. Tressel to come to YSU with Chartwells is symbolic of a culture of indifference towards minority communities.”
“I am a professor at YSU. I have not set foot up there since they became Chick-fil-A,” Lorimer stated, lamenting that, “A long time ago it used to be a respectable place where you could take an invited speaker out to lunch and even have table service. We now have no such place and I will not support Fried Food for Homophobes, which is what I think of Chick-fil-A.”
“Chick-fil-a is well known for its CEO's bigotry,” Professor Lorimer told Campus Reform, reiterating that “Since it has been Chick-fil-A I have not set a foot in it.”
Other professed students mocked the petition via Twitter.
One user scoffed that the “YSU Chick-fil-A petition has to be the worst thing I've ever read,” while another tweeted, “So there's a petition rn to get rid the chic-fil-a on ysu campus bc the owners dont like gay people. They just want to ruin it for everyone.”
“Im gonna start a petition to close every Whole Foods if i lose the YSU Chick-fil-a,” a third user declared.
“You might be woke,” YSU alum Chelsea Marrie mockingly tweeted, “but are you ‘having a chick fil a on campus is literally homophobic so I’m starting a petition to remove it,’ woke?”
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UPDATE: A spokesperson for YSU provided a statement to Campus Reform indicating that the school has no plans to remove Chick-fil-A, but is willing to engage in a dialogue on the issue.
"The Chick-fil-A brand is pervasive on college and university campuses throughout the nation and is an extremely popular choice for our students at YSU, as well," the statement began, adding, "As part of the YSU Culture of Community initiative, the university recently formed a new Inclusion and Awareness Committee to help us better appreciate our diversity and to help us work together to overcome and prevent societal divisions. We invite those with concerns about Chick-fil-A to join in Committee discussions and participate in efforts to promote and nurture respect and to develop a campus community where everyone feels safe and secure."