Rider University, a private university in New Jersey, blocked a potential Chick-fil-A location on campus citing the fast-food chain as “widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.”
Chick-fil-A was removed from a survey asking students what dining options they wanted to see on campus. In previous surveys, Chick-fil-A had been included. In a letter to the university community, administrators said that after “a difficult assessment of competing interests” the chicken restaurant would no longer be considered.
“The choices in this situation, like in so many others, were imperfect. They challenged us to reflect on our values and consider what kind of community we want to provide for those who live and learn at Rider University. Ultimately, we decided to lean in the direction of creating a welcoming environment where differences can be appreciated and where each individual can expect to experience dignity and respect,” university president Gregory G. Dell’Omo and president of student affairs Leanna Fenneberg wrote in the letter.
CEO of Chick-fil-A Dan T. Cathy has openly opposed same-sex marriage. The franchise has also donated money to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A responded to the controversy in a statement saying that the company has “no policy of discrimination against any group.”
“Rider University’s survey was recently brought to our attention, and while we respect the University’s decision, this news story represents a good opportunity to clarify misperceptions about our brand,” the statement reads. “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. More than 120,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand.”