Published August 30, 2012 at 2:34am Updated August 30, 2012 at 3:33am
While universities across the nation continue to see students petitioning to remove Chick-fil-A locations from campuses following restaurant CEO Dan Cathys statements against marriage equality, UA administration has cited First Amendment rights in their argument to keep the location in the Student Union Memorial Center. Cathy made the statement in an article published by the Baptist Press on July 16, resulting in backlash from gay rights groups and support from conservative politicians including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.
Locally, UA administrators are doing what they can to keep the focus on education and free expression.
As a publicly-funded institution and gathering place for intellectual study, the UA fosters the healthy exchange of dialogue and the expression of differing viewpoints, said Johnny Cruz, the UAs assistant vice president of communications, in a statement regarding Chick-fil-As presence in the student union.
In the statement, Cruz spoke of the importance of a respectful discussion and debate within the university community. Additionally, individuals should have the right to form their own beliefs on the issue and viewpoints expressed, as well as the right to decide which businesses to patronize, Cruz said.
At other universities, such as West Virginia University, New York University and the University of Kansas, officials are fielding petitions and demands to remove Chick-fil-A from campus. Currently, a petition to remove Chick-fil-A from the NYU campus has collected nearly 16,000 signatures.
The university administration will ask the University Senate to take up the issue of Chick-fil-As status on campus again when it reconvenes this fall to make a recommendation on how to proceed, said NYU spokesman John Beckman in a statement.
Although the student union administration at the UA has received a phone call requesting information on where to deliver a petition and has provided answers, there has been no petition received as of yet, said Joel Hauff, interim director of Arizona Student Unions in an email.
There has been support for protesting Chick-fil-A, but some groups, like the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Pride Alliance, have refrained from taking a stance against the dining facility.
Our big problem is we cant officially be involved in anything against Chick-fil-A on campus, because our funds are coming from the same place, said Christina Bischoff, a senior studying ecology and evolutionary biology and co-director of the Pride Alliance. It risks our ability to be in the union.
UA affiliates argue for Chick-fil-A, cite First Amendment