Students lined up on the Cox Hall Bridge to protest the presence of Chick-fil-A on Emory’s campus Wednesday.
Controversy regarding the national restaurant chain Chick-fil-A arose this July when company President Dan Cathy publicly stated his opinion on gay marriage. Since then, students have held multiple sessions on campus to discuss the presence of the food chain at Emory.
Protesters held signs asking Emory students and faculty to boycott the Chick-fil-A on campus. Some signs mimicked Chick-fil-A’s signature marketing slogan “Eat Mor Chikin.” These signs read, for example, “I don’t eat at Chick-fil-A, I’d rather eat Dik,” and “Hate mor fagz.”
The protest was organized through the “Support All Emory Students, Say No to Chick-fil-A” Facebook group. The group which has not specified who its leaders are invited students on the social-media networking site to stop by the two-hour protest “even if [they] could only make it for five minutes” and show their support, according to its Facebook page.
Upon attending the protests, some students agreed the campus Chick-fil-A is detrimental to equality at Emory. Grant Schleifer, a College sophomore, attended the protest. Schleifer explained that he felt that Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus is hurtful to the gay [LGBT] community and reflects poorly on the student body’s morals.
“A hateful group can’t live in our home because it makes it a toxic environment,” said Schleifer. “It’s uncomfortable for gay people and their allies.”
On the other hand, other students feel that the protest was unable to decrease student apathy. Alexander Chen, a College junior, noticed the protest while walking through campus.
“Emory students are more open, and they understand that it’s simply the personal opinion [of Dan Cathy],” said Chen, “Emory students don’t look into this protest because they understand it’s just a personal opinion. Many LGBT students still go to Chick-fil-A and eat. This protest is not useful at all. I have some gay friends, and they see this as just not very helpful in any way. People just get offended very easily.”
The protests also attracted some students from other colleges in the area.
Christopher Wells, a Georgia State University student who refers to himself as “Big Softie,” joined Emory students in protesting the campus restaurant and expressed his belief that the food chain is immoral.
“Chick-fil-A is getting too involved as a corporation in people’s lives,” said Wells. “If it’s just a fast food chain, just chicken and fries, they shouldn’t be involved in people’s personal choices.”
Some students believe that national food chain’s stance on gay marriage is controversial but should not result in the removal of the campus restaurant. Harrison Glazer, a College freshman, expressed that he does not support Chick-fil-A but believes that if you do not agree with the food chain’s values, simply don’t eat there.
Kari Tyler, a College sophomore, noticed the protesters on her way to class. She noted that some students are simply walking by the protest and not paying attention.
“For Emory, [taking Chick-fil-A off campus] is more of an issue of how much money it brings in,” said Tyler, “Some people just really like chicken, so they will keep eating there regardless.”
Schleifer said that he believed Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A are abusing their right to free speech.
“If we believe that freedom of speech applies for every instance, we can also say that KKK groups can be on campus and that genocide can occur,” said Schleifer, “Dan Cathy is donating to groups that could result in genocide in Africa; he is donating to groups that keep policies in place that will result in gay people in Africa being killed.”
Many students have cited student apathy at Emory as a reason for lack of participation in the Chick-fil-A removal effort. In the past, meetings regarding the removal of Chick-fil-A have attracted low numbers of attendees. Only four students attended an Oct. 3 Chick-fil-A removal strategy meeting.
Elizabeth Hennig, a College sophomore, attended the protest and explained her opinion on student apathy at Emory.
“Students feel apathetic because [they] are generally distracted, and they do not recognize they have personal connections to the issues that are affecting them. There is a lot of support for [the removal of Chick-fil-A] on this campus. As far as a participatory level, not so much. That is how it is on every single issue on this campus.”
– By Dustin Slade