The Student Government Senate failed to pass a bill Wednesday afternoon that would have prohibited Chick-fil-A from opening a location at UM.
After the vote, Parker Barnett, the speaker of the Senate, issued a statement saying that the bill was voted down “primarily based on conflicting views regarding the bill’s language – not concept.”
“The University of Miami Student Government continues to have a strong belief that discrimination of any form is never acceptable,” the statement read.
Still, it is unlikely that Chick-fil-A will operate a franchise on campus.
The university is currently looking into the retail options that will be located in the new Student Activities Center (SAC). According to Patricia Whitely, vice president for student affairs, no decision has been reached regarding the dining options that will be offered at the SAC.
Jared Payne, the senator for SpectrUM, a student organization that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community at UM, introduced the bill to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a franchise at UM, primarily in the SAC.
Chick-fil-A, a privately owned fast food chain, came under fire over the summer when its president, Dan Cathy, announced that he does not support gay marriage.
“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy told The Baptist Press in mid-July.
Since then, Chick-fil-A has also been criticized for donating its profits to anti-LGBT groups. The controversy has led to attempts to ban Chick-fil-A on more than 30 college campuses, according to an article in the Huffington Post. Although a Chicago city official recently claimed that Chick-fil-A had agreed to stop these donations, it remains unclear whether the company has actually changed its practices.
At the Senate meeting, Payne argued that Chick-fil-A violated the University of Miami’s key principles by donating to anti-LGBT groups.
UM’s Non-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy states: “It is the policy of the University of Miami that no … person … shall on the grounds of … sexual orientation … be subjected to discrimination or harassment in … any educational program or activity of the University.”
The Core Values of the University of Miami, a section of the university’s mission statement, also says that UM is committed to fostering in its students “the foundations for ethical citizenship and … a respect for differences among people.”
“The university community needs to be more proactive about who we do business with,” Payne said.
He also cited other organizations on campus that had taken action against Chick-fil-A.
Hecht Residential College will not use Chick-fil-A as a vendor for its events, said Payne, who heard about the ban from a resident assistant in Hecht.
At Canefest in August, Chick-fil-A was absent after having catered the event for several years.
According to Bibi Yasmin Moghani, the co-chair of the Committee of Student Organizations (COSO), which oversees Canefest, Chick-fil-A had already been approved as a vendor when the group decided to rescind the offer.
“We just didn’t think the ideology and diversity of what our student body represents agrees with their CEO,” she said.
At the meeting, Payne stated that regardless of whether the bill passed, university administrators had made it clear to him that Chick-fil-A would not be welcome on campus.
“My entire goal for this bill is for SpectrUM to make its voice heard,” he said.
In a statement, Whitely acknowledged that administration was “sensitive to SpectruUM student leaders’ concerns regarding Chick-fil-A.”
Despite this setback, SpectrUM plans to “go back to the drawing board” in order to determine whether they will introduce an updated version of the bill to Senate, said Shelby Juarez, SpectrUM president.
“Our purpose needs to be updated and that’s where we’re at,” she said. “It might not change, but I can’t say that for sure.”
According to Juarez, SpectrUM still plans to organize a series of educational activities about how consumers can express their views through what they buy and which companies they support.
Moghani believes that Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus will diminish because catering food from the chain is simply not a convenient option for student organizations.
“It’s not food that can easily be brought to campus,” she said. “Dadeland is kind of far away.”
Student support for a Chick-fil-A on campus is mixed. The Miami Hurricane’s online survey of 78 voters found that 49 percent favored bringing Chick-fil-A to campus, 38 percent were opposed to it and 13 percent had no opinion.
Last spring, sophomore Seth Furman created an online petition to bring Chick-fil-A to campus. Back then, Furman was a member of SG’s Dining Services Advisory Board and was working closely with dining services to reach his goal. However, after Cathy publicized his anti-LGBT views over the summer, Furman deleted his online petition and is now working to ensure that Chick-fil-A will never have a location on campus.
“Having a Chick-fil-A on campus would have made it uncomfortable for not only our LGBT population, who are extremely passionate Canes and who love their alma mater as much as I do, but for myself as well,” he said.
Other students, like sophomore Leah August, simply don’t care.
“It doesn’t really affect me one way or another,” she said. “I’m not really concerned.”
Read the staff’s divided opinion on whether UM should bring a Chick-fil-A location to campus.