Last semester, Rider students were asked the question in an email from Food Services: what restaurant would you most like to see on campus in the next few years?
I'm not gonna lie, Chick-fil-A was on my list of restaurants I'd most like to see on campus. It may have even been my number one choice. I've always been a fan of Chick-fil-A, their food tastes great, the staff is always friendly, and the prices aren't too bad. I submitted my answers last spring semester and didn't really think anything of it until I got an email at the beginning of November with a follow-up from the poll.
In the e-mail, it read that Chick-fil-A wasn't an option because the company did not entirely reflect the views of the university. I kind of read that and went, "wow," and not because of disappointment, but because I actually felt a sense of pride.
Even if they weren't explicit, it is no secret that Chick-fil-A has expressed anti-LGBTQ viewpoints in the past. The fast-food chain also donates to companies and organizations who oppose same-sex marriage, and because of this, I find it fairly easy to understand why Rider would deny the proposal of the fast-food chain coming to campus. Why risk the comfortability of LGBTQ students for a few chicken sandwiches or nuggets?
It might not seem like a big deal...it's just a restaurant after all, but bringing the chain to campus would make a statement. That statement would be saying the Rider doesn't care about the needs of its LGBTQ students, because let's face it, even if you want Chick-fil-A, you don't NEED it. It's a want, not a need. But LGBTQ students feeling equal to their peers and not facing ridicule because of their sexuality is a need.
It is 2018, nearing 2019, members of the LGBTQ community should not be worrying about facing harassment or bullying, especially in college. And Rider students, if you want Chick-fil-A so badly, drive 10-15 minutes down the road to Hamilton where you can find one that will provide you with a Number One with a large Diet Coke and extra Chick-fil-A sauces. Plus, Rider has the right to make their own decisions, given the fact that its a private university. There was also careful consideration of other factors in the decision-making process, besides the LGBTQ factor, which seems to be the only one news outlets are reporting about.
What I find ironic is that Rider isn't the first university to face backlash for considering bringing Chick-fil-A to campus. New York University, Stockton University, and Northeastern University have also opposed and faced protests from LGBTQ students who wanted to prevent Chick-fil-A from coming to campus in the past. Another thing I've found misleading as a student who goes to Rider is that they aren't banning Chick-fil-A from campus. Their food is still ordered for events quite frequently, in fact, I just ate some nuggets last night.
So, when you read all of the headlines that say "New Jersey University bans Chick-fil-A from Campus" just know that a majority of the students still have access to Chick-fil-A and probably eat it quite often, it just won't be directly on campus. I also know of many members of the LGBTQ community who still eat Chick-fil-A, and of those who don't, either way, I respect their opinion.
When I first saw that the story was making headlines, and appearing on websites such as Fox News and Breitbart, I was a little surprised. It seemed like old news to me, we got the e-mail weeks ago stating that Chick-fil-A wasn't an option at this time, and I thought we all collectively moved on from it. We received a survey in which we were able to secure our top three choices for the upcoming restaurant on campus to replace Subway. It was fine. I realized it wasn't fine anymore when a news van was here on November 27, and the story made headlines on USA Today.
In addition, the university wasn't able to secure Panera or Chipotle as on-campus restaurants either. Right down the road, The College of New Jersey has a Panera on their campus, so why weren't we able to secure it? Where's the outcry about that?
At the end of the day, it's just FOOD. How about we focus on more important things currently plaguing the country, rather than a small, private New Jersey university preventing a fast-food chain from setting up shop on their campus for perfectly viable reasons?
However, the university decided to hold a forum for students who are both in favor or against the decision to voice their opinion about the issue to be considered by the university.
(Plus, I think the real issue at hand is that Wawa wasn't an option to be on campus, but the former CEO of Wawa literally graduated from here, but OK.)