Chick-fil-A has come under a media firestorm after company president Dan Cathy spoke publicly against same sex marriage. That national controversy has landed in Kansas.
The petitions on both sides speak to the question of whether the values of the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the values of that other bird-named enterprise are in conflict.
The big key words in the debate are diversity and inclusion.
Go to Mass Street in Lawrence, KS, and you'll get both perspectives on where the Chick-fil-A restaurant sits with respect to Jayhawk spirit or American values.
"I think Chick-Fil-A should be punished for their extremist views, and that kind of attitude should not be accepted," Trevor LeBlanc of Kansas City, MO, said.
"They don't deny service to gays and lesbians, he just doesn't support gay marriage, so you can't deny the business that location simply because you don't agree with the CEO," Rory Broughton of Independence, MO, said.
There's a petition on each side of the issue about the fate of the chicken restaurant in Wescoe Hall. The tally of the petition supports currently looks like it's about three-to-one in favor of chucking Chick-fil-A.
KU is just one of many universities listed in petitions cropping up in growing numbers on the website change.org. The University of Missouri-Kansas City is also listed on the petition website.
But the Memorial Unions' spokesman Mike Reid said satisfying petitioners isn't so simple.
"Not a lot we can do at present time because our contract does go through 2014," Reid said. "We can find no way out of the contract, right now, and we don't know if we'd want to."
The problem lies in the fact that not everyone signing a petition on the website is a student - it's an open platform - and what the unions' board wants to know is where their students stand.
"We still have to get a lot more input to see if there is some reason to make a change," Reid said.
Reid said the next board meeting is it the end of this month and the issue will be discussed further then.
An online petition also began at Wichita State University. It had about 530 signatures early Friday. Wichita State officials said if they hear of anyone being refused service at Chick-fil-A because of sexual orientation, the school would address the situation.
The petitions call for more than a boycott of the restaurants, but for campuses to end their partnerships with the restaurant. Unlike off-campus restaurants, the Wescoe Hall restaurant is actually owned by the Memorial Unions Corporation which then pays a percentage of sales to Chick-fil-A. On top of that, the unions are not part of the state system - their funding comes from sales and student fees.
Also Friday, the head of Chick-fil-A's media relations died. Don Perry reportedly had a heart attack. He had been with the company for 29 years.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:29 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:29:04 GMT
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