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Elon SGA passes Spectrum resolution to remove Chick-fil-A from campus

October 12, 2012

#ElonChikn was trending in the Greensboro area during the SGA forum.

The resolution against Chick-fil-A’s presence in the Lakeside Dining Hall at Elon University passed 35-11-0 in the Student Government Association Senate Thursday night.

This is not decision-making legislation; the final decision rests with university senior staff.

Lauren Clapp authored the legislation on behalf of Spectrum, Elon’s queer-straight alliance. The resolution requests the administration severe ties with Chick-fil-A and replace the food vendor with a business that better aligns with the values of the institution. The resolution argues Chick-fil-A does not agree with the university’s commitment to diversity because the company’s charitable arm, WinShape, donates to anti-gay groups.

“Having Chick-fil-A on campus is about having integrity of how Elon operates its institution,” Clapp said at the SGA forum.

Students, faculty and staff were invited to share their opinions regarding the food vendor’s presence on campus prior to the senate’s vote. Individuals were allowed four minutes to speak.

Elon University students, faculty and staff filled McKinnon Hall to listen and share their opinions about Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus.

“Chick-fil-A is a bully, and I think it would be nice if Elon could tell this bully to get out,” junior Derek Scully wrote in a letter that was read by senior Kassondra Cloos.

Scully said that although he does not identify as gay, he understands the threat of bullies and the betrayal felt when people who you thought were friends support that bully.

Additionally, members of Spectrum spoke out against the organizations that benefit from Chick-fil-A’s charitable contributions.

Senior Emily Kane shared a personal testimony to communicate the negative effects of conversion therapy, which she underwent at the age of 16. WinShape financially supports organizations that advocate for such practices, she said.

“I am proof that this type of therapy is degrading and harmful, and Elon should not be OK giving one penny to groups that support these types of therapies,” Kane said.

Senior Laura Lee Sturm also advocated that SGA vote in favor of the proposed resolution. Sturm, vice president of Spectrum, said that in conversation she purposely avoids revealing her sexuality, but she believes her identity as a heterosexual student is relevant to the forum.

Although Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy denounces gay-rights, the donations Chick-fil-A makes to specific organizations impacts the student body, including the straight population, she said.

“It’s affecting you because it’s affecting your university, it’s affecting your fellow students and it’s affecting your friends,” Sturm said.

Although the business does not argue against her rights, she acts as an ally for the queer community.

“And the end of the day, my rights are still safe,” she said. “I recognize that I have heterosexual privilege, and I know it is my civic responsibility to show my opposition to Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus.”

While the forum enabled all students to voice their views, senior Jasmine Whaley explicitly said she does not care about the opinions of each individual, but rather that the student body acts in a manner representative of the Elon honor code.

Whaley, co-founder of Better Together and a student active in the admissions office and Multicultural Center, described her resume as “knee-deep in this diversity.”

Elon’s commitment to diversity attracted her to the university, she said, and she encouraged all students to uphold the institution’s values by voting to remove Chick-fil-A from campus.

“Don’t say you respect everyone in our community, when you support an organization that does not,” Whaley said.

Although the majority of students who spoke at the forum requested SGA vote in favor of the resolution, a few spoke in opposition to the piece of legislation.

Robert Orr referred to a survey conducted by The Pendulum to demonstrate the majority of the student body supports Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus and chooses to eat at the establishment.

“The SGA is designed to represent our student body,” Orr said. “There are the results, now granted it is not the entire student body, but it is a greater percentage of the student body than is represented here this evening.”

While junior Jack Minor criticized the forum for not representing various opinions, Elon SGA tweeted asking Elon students to submit their views.

Sarah Dodge, SGA public relations chair, read some of the tweets submitted. The majority of the tweets opposed the resolution, but Dodge cautioned members of the Senate to consider that these individuals did not take the time nor risk criticism to share their views publicly.

Discussion continued among SGA senate members for 50 minutes before the representatives voted.

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