**UPDATE: The town hall meeting mentioned in the article below has been postponed, according to an announcement made by NKU’s Student Government President Erik Pederson. “After a careful review of the ensuing discussions, and in consultation with appropriate university officials, SGA is postponing this town hall event to a later date,” Pederson said in an email to the campus community. Make sure to check back to TheNortherner.com for further coverage of this issue.**
In the wake of a nationwide debate surrounding a fast food chicken chain marinated in controversy over its support of organizations opposed to same-sex marriage, NKU administrators have now confirmed that Chick-fil-A is one of several nationally branded food options that could be considered for a spot on campus.
A town hall style meeting based on the topic of “nationally-branded dining options for the Student Union” has been set up for the entire NKU community to get a chance to discuss this issue. The meeting will take place on Feb. 17 from 5:30-7 p.m. in student union room 104, according to NKU Dean of Students Jeffrey Waple.
Students, faculty and staff across campus had an array of opinions to voice on the matter prior to the town hall meeting, many of whom contacted NKU Director of LGBTQ Programs and Services Bonnie Meyer.
“I’ve known for a couple of months that a franchise could be coming to campus, Chick-fil-A being one of those options,” Meyer said. “Many members of the community and allies have approached me and been upset about this situation.”
Both Meyer’s center and position were created within the last six months, and NKU’s center is one of only two LGBTQ centers at a public university within the state of Kentucky.
“The timing with this isn’t ideal,” Meyer said. “I’m waiting until after the town hall meeting Monday to form an opinion and official statement about this issue… but Chick-fil-A’s record kind of stands for itself.”
Meyers said she has also been approached by a large amount of people who are afraid to take a publicized stance against Chick-fil-A due to the sensitivity of the topic.
Some of these staff, administrators and faculty have also expressed their concerns to NKU SAFE (Staff, Administrators and Faculty for Equality) President Brandelyn Tosolt.
“I have been contacted by a large number of people who are scared to come out and support this [opposition],” Tosolt said. “And it really saddens me.”
Students seemed to have mixed reactions to the news.
“Regardless of political and religious views, NKU should consider bringing food chains to campus that will cater to a larger range of students,” said Taylor Vick, a senior communications studies and French language major. “There aren’t enough options on campus for students with restricted diets; and the food that is offered for those students simply falls short in nutrients, considering the high prices.”
Sophomore electronic media broadcasting major Laura Hahn disagreed and said she would love to see a Chick-fil-A on campus.
“Regardless of their political/spiritual standpoints, they make great food that is affordable and, compared to other fast food joints, is relatively healthy,” Hahn said.
Climate of inclusivity
Both Meyer and Tosolt said the community’s reaction has ties to the current social climate of NKU’s campus.
“We are heading in the right direction,” Meyer said, alluding to NKU’s changes with these sort of issues. “I’m curious to see how many students will show up on Monday.”
Meyer mentioned the creation of specialized resource centers in the Office of Student Affairs, the creation of the Senior Advisor to the President for Inclusive Excellence position and inclusivity being written into the university’s strategic plan, as examples of the university’s changes in social climate.
Tosolt recognized these initiatives and didn’t understand how allowing a Chick-fil-A on campus would fit into these plans.
“Our calls for inclusivity calls for us all to be inclusive,” Tosolt said.
The university’s Student Government Association has yet to say whether they would support a Chick-fil-A on campus.
“The Student Government Association, in no way, shape or form endorses any particular franchise that has the possibility of being selected as the next franchise that will be housed inside the food court at the Student Union,” said SGA President and senior communication studies major Erik Pederson.
Student government plans to send a recommendation to administration after hearing input from students, and attendees of the town hall meeting, according to Pederson.
“We have not decided on Chick-fil-A yet,” said NKU Dean of Students Jeffrey Waple. “There’s nothing final to this. We’re having discussions with our students and staff about this… Chick fil-A is one of many concepts.”
However, Tosolt questions even the possibility of the chain coming to campus.
“What made Chick-fil-A rise to the top, if it even is at the top?” Tosolt questioned. “How would we decide on Chick-fil-A over something like KFC, if we want a place with fried chicken.”
Morgan Bell, sophomore integrated studies major and research and planning assistant for NKU’s LGBTQ Center, understands Tosolt’s concerns.
“This should be an important student decision,” she said. “They [we] are not thinking about what’s going on behind the food. We are the majority of the ones who would be buying the food… Should we be funding a company that’s not supportive?”
Tosolt said it all comes down what supporting Chick-fil-A would symbolize.
“Money talks,” she said. “Where we put our money says something about what we value as individuals, and collectively as an institution.”
Overall, most sides seemed to value the importance of attending Monday’s town hall meeting.
“This is our lives in a democracy,” Tosolt said. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a Chick-fil-A, but we need to ask what message it will send. This is democracy in action.”