Emory’s Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution in opposition to Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus last night.
Andy Ratto, a representative of the Emory LGBTQ community, presented the resolution.
The 18-3-3 vote in favor of the resolution signifies a statement by SGA that they support the LGBTQ community at Emory and encourage the University to reconsider its relationship with Chick-fil-A.
According to the resolution, Chick-fil-A “funnels millions of dollars through WinShape to groups fighting against equal rights for queer people and to oppress sexual minorities.”
The resolution stressed Emory’s commitment to diversity on campus, as stated in the University’s mission statement. It concluded that in order for Emory to remain consistent with its values, SGA must support the queer community to find a solution to this ongoing debate.
“Chick-fil-A has become a symbol for some people of anti-gay attitudes and oppression,” said resolution author Ratto. “This is not a bill calling for a ban on Chick-fil-A, instead it’s a resolution talking about the importance of this issue and indication what the next steps should be, working toward a positive solution.”
The issue of Chick-fil-A on campus has come up multiple times ever since the corporation received massive media attention this past summer after its president made controversial remarks about same-sex marriage.
Around that time, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair released a statement expressing that the views of Chick-fil-A “do not reflect Emory’s values as an institution.”
Some legislators at the meeting expressed concerns about supporting the resolution because of its implications for the future.
“Our main concern is that the SGA would be linked to all actions that the LGBTQ community decides to pursue,” said Calvin Li, student life committee chair and College sophomore.
The problems legislators like Li and Mallika Begum, College senior representative, had with the resolution were what they referred to as “vague language.”
“I don’t think as SGA we should take such a strong position in this … I’m hesitant to give my approval … we should look to the views of the entire student body,” said Begum, one of the three legislators who voted against the resolution.
To avoid linking SGA to every future action of the LGBTQ community, Li suggested an amendment to the resolution so that it states “SGA supports the queer community … in working appropriately to find a solution to this problem” instead of “working to find an appropriate solution.”
In addition, legislators expressed the concern that this resolution and the opposition to Chick-fil-A on campus represent only a minority of the students’ views.
However, some executive members of SGA disagreed.
“The amount of students this is affecting might be a minority, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pass it,” said Matt Willis, B-School junior and SGA chief of staff. “All we’re saying is that we’re hearing and supporting them in their personal decisions, we’re going to stand strong with them regardless of whether they’re the majority or the minority.”
Statements from Emory administration indicate that the University does not plan on taking significant actions against Chick-fil-A in the near future. In the State of the University Address, University President James W. Wagner stated that while Nair’s statement still stands, the University would not encourage Sodexo to remove Chick-fil-A.
Many members viewed the resolution as more of a statement of support for the queer community rather than a motion to remove Chick-fil-A from campus.
“I agree with the promotion of inclusivity,” said Danielle Zamarelli, nursing school senior and SGA vice president, “When I read this resolution, it’s saying do we support this body and the struggle that this has caused them. And are we saying we would like to help you feel more included on this campus.”
Ratto agreed to the amendment, adding that all of the people involved in this campaign have been reasonable and mature.
In their vote to approve the resolution, SGA members concluded that its passage would provide room for more dialogue among students about Chick-fil-A on campus.
“I’m very grateful to the SGA for supporting our community in this issue, and I’m very proud to have an SGA that will stand up for justice and for what is right,” said College junior and Emory pride president Dohyun Ahn. “The resolution passing will … help us in the long run to engage in dialogue with the administration.”
— By Rupsha Basu