I’m sure most of the Skeptic Ink reading crowd is familiar with the controversy surrounding WinShape, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm. If you’re not, the breakdown of the situation is basically that they gave millions and millions of dollars to anti-gay groups, including one that is identified as hate group by the Southern Poverty Law center. This has lead to numerous calls for boycotts and protests over the last few years, with a huge upswing in attention this summer, positive and negative, over comments CFA president Dan Cathy made.
In an interesting turn of events, the real issue – that people can (and in my opinion, should) make a conscious decision not to support groups that support discrimination – was obfuscated by ultra-conservatives and reframed as a free speech issue. While not the case at all, this struck a huge nerve with many and led to the so-called Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, where people stuffed themselves with fried chicken to show their support of “free speech,” and counter-protests, which involved same-sex kisses outside of those same locations serving the aforementioned chicken.
The university where I work has a Chick-fil-A in our student union’s food court. It is the top money maker among the eateries there, and students flock (no pun intended) to it day in and day out. The campus group I advise, the UCO Skeptics, had actually begun planning consciousness-raising informational booths last spring, with the goal of eventually trying to remove CFA and replace it with an eatery that does not support discrimination (similar to what other colleges have done). To date, we have collected over 300 signatures calling for the removal of the franchise from campus and they even put together an online petition to sign for those unable to stop by in person. Today this got picked up by the campus news:
I am proud of my students for many reasons, but taking an active stance in their community and standing up for their beliefs tops the list, and I know they will keep at it.
UPDATE (10/26/2012) – The petition drive got picked up by the largest newspaper in Oklahoma (the Daily Oklahoman) for a nice story.