Conservative pundits have long targeted the perceived “PC culture” that dominates most college campuses in the US, including everything from the concept of “safe spaces” and trigger warnings to preferred pronoun acknowledgment for students. This week, conservative Twitter is directing that internet outrage at a particular private university in New Jersey for… denying their students fried chicken sandwiches.
Rider University, home of the Broncs and located just outside of Trenton, posted a letter to the community to their website on Friday, November 23, explaining why Chick-fil-A had been removed from the list of options on a survey for a potential new restaurant on campus. Previous student polls that had included Chick-fil-A showed a strong preference for the Georgia-based fried chicken sandwich shop, but a follow-up survey excluded the fan favorite. In the open letter, school administrators explained that “Chick-fil-A was removed as one of the options based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.”
“We fully acknowledge an organization’s right to hold these beliefs,” the letter continued. “Just as we acknowledge the right for individuals in our community and elsewhere to also personally hold the same beliefs.”
The cause for concern originates in the 2012 controversy involving Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy making public comments in a Baptist newsletter that the company was “supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family,” a dog whistle phrase alluding to opposite-sex marriages only. The statements came after tax filings for 2011 showed that WinShape, the charitable arm of the Chick-fil-A business, had made millions of dollars in donations to groups working to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage and other anti-LGBTQ causes. In a statement in response Rider’s decision, the company said, "Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone. … We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda."
This is not the first time a college campus has taken an anti-Chick-fil-A stance. Shortly after Dan Cathy’s 2012 comments about marriage, students at New York University petitioned to remove an already-existing restaurant from their campus—the only one in all of Manhattan at the time. The NYU petition surfaced shortly after Northeastern University ended negotiations to bring the fast food chain to campus after the student government voted against it. Both the city of Boston and the city of Denver tried to block the company from opening franchises within their borders, under dubiously legal premises.
Just two weeks ago, the newly-majorified House Democratic caucus held its first meeting, which a Politico reporter tweeted as serving “thanksgiving-type [sic] food.” She ended the tweet with the detail, “no chick fil a/ideological food.” The tweet quickly got ratio’ed by angry conservatives railing about the fragility of the libs for politicizing food. (As if there was a single act of growing, buying, cooking, or eating food that is not in some way touched by politics.)
The results of Rider’s new survey haven’t been made public, so it remains to be seen what new late-night, greasy food chain will end up getting this apparently coveted campus vending spot for all those ravenous co-ed bottomless pits.
Even though it seemed most of the Rider community was A-OK with the controversial chain, they’re just gonna have to “eat mor chikin” somewhere else.