Chick-fil-A support divides campus community

Recent statements made by Chick-fil-A’s president relating to gay marriage and gay rights issues has called into question Guilford College’s athletics partnership with the local branch of the company on Friendly Avenue.

According to an Aug. 23 Guilford Beacon article, the local Chick-fil-A has supported the athletics program for 10 years, most recently during the 2010–2011 academic year.

The issues sparked by this controversy are being discussed on campus among administrative groups, faculty and students.

“Chick-fil-A states that it supports ‘family values,’ and that its policy is to treat everyone with ‘honor, dignity, and respect,’” said Professor of Theatre Studies David Hammond in an email interview. “It all looks great, but if the values being taught or modeled include the right to attack or objectify others, it all becomes questionable to me.”

“The main issue I have with it is they contribute money to organizations that actively work against gay rights,” said Shelby Smith, president of Pride, the college’s LGBTQA organization.

On the other hand, Dave Walters, sports information director and assistant director of athletics, said, “It’s important to consider any area business with interest in supporting the college. In times of dire financial condition, we’d be well to consider any revenue source within reason.”

However, some members of the community feel that accepting this financial support is unreasonable.

“What would hurt far more than the financial aspect is failing to approach this concern in a way that honors Guilford’s ethos and demonstrates that our core values are not mere window dressing,” said Director of the Friends Center and Campus Ministry Coordinator Max Carter.

In response to these concerns, President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar picked Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Aaron Fetrow to assemble a group of students, faculty and staff to look into the issue.

Fetrow says that he intends to lead the group in accordance with the school’s values.

“At this point, I will say that I am glad to serve as the convener of the group and view my role much like clerking a committee at my Meeting,” said Fetrow.

“I certainly have opinions on the issue. … However, I will refrain and do my best to offer impartial leadership to the group while paying very careful attention to the Quaker Testimonies that guide our Core Values and to the sentiments of our community with regard to issues of gay marriage and gay rights.”

Ty Buckner, associate vice president for communications and marketing, also responded to the issue of Chick-fil-A’s support.

“I don’t believe the relationship with Chick-fil-A or any other business equals an endorsement of their product or their views,” said Buckner. “I don’t think there was any intention to spark controversy with this partnership.

“It’s a matter of working with a local business. Where do you draw the line? How much do we know about the opinions of other local businesses who support the school?”