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|Emory students, alumni still want Chick-fil-A kicked off campus|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|January 30, 2013 13:30|
LGBT alumni and students at Atlanta’s Emory University won’t back down from their call to kick Chick-fil-A out of campus dining, despite a national gay activist’s revelation that he has formed a friendship with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy.
Shane Windmeyer, executive director of national group Campus Pride, drew headlines with his Jan. 28 column posted on Huffington Post, “Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A.”
Windmeyer wrote that “after months of personal phone calls, text messages and in-person meetings,” including attending the Chick-fil-A bowl with Cathy on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta, he now considers Cathy a friend.
The personal relationship, which began when Cathy called Windmeyer in August, is what prompted Campus Pride to suspend is "5 Simple Facts about Chick-fil-A" national college campaign last fall, Windmeyer explained.
After reviewing Chick-fil-A’s 2011 IRS Form 990 and 2012 financials, which have not been released publicly, Windmeyer said he also believes the organization no longer gives funds to “the most divisive anti-LGBT groups.”
But Windmeyer’s word is not enough to convince Emory’s LGBT alumni group, GALA, to withdraw their demand that the campus sever ties to the Atlanta-based chicken chain.
“We believe that the ‘Dan and Me’ article by Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride, does not change the funding issue. Winshape continues to fund anti-LGBT organizations, albeit, according to Mr. Windmeyer, less evil ones,” GALA’s steering committee wrote in a statement to GA Voice.
“Emory GALA continues to stand behind our previous statements and until Chick-fil-A and Winshape release a statement that they will no longer fund any anti-LGBT organizations, we will continue to push for and support the removal of Chick-fil-A from Emory University’s campus,” the group stated.
The executive committee of Emory Pride, a campus LGBT student group, isn’t backing down either.
“Shane Windmeyer and Dan Cathy have been very brave to sustain a respectful and trusting conversation despite knowing that both of their communities may be quick to dismiss them, and it is heartening to see that Chick-Fil-A's WinShape institute did not contribute to the most divisive anti-LGBTQ groups in 2012,” Emory Pride leaders said in a statement last night to GA Voice.
“However, Shane Windmeyer does not speak for the entire LGBTQ community, nor do we. Dan Cathy, in order to make a real betterment for the LGBTQ community, should address his religious community about his ‘blessing of growth’ and actively engage with our community to end the harm and ostracism inflicted upon us by the evangelical and otherwise homophobic religious communities,” the statement continued.
For Emory Pride leaders, Chick-fil-A remains a “symbol of hate” on the campus.
“Chick-Fil-A has already become a symbol of hate that causes active harm, and this symbolic meaning will not disappear because of one man becoming friends with another,” they wrote.
“We, as the Emory Pride Executive Committee, will not cease our campaign against Chick-Fil-A until all traces of homophobia are gone from it and all those who work for it and all those who patronize it.
“We believe that Equality and Justice does not mean respecting each other's differences; it is the absolute end of homophobia, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and all forms of oppression, internal and external.”
Emory won’t ask Chick-fil-A to leave
After controversy over Chick-fil-A heated up last summer, following Cathy bragging to a Christian media outlet that his company was “guilty as charged” in opposing gay marriage, GALA sent a letter Aug. 23 to Emory President James Wagner raising concerns about the company’s millions in donations to group’s that oppose LGBT rights.
In October, leaders from seven student LGBT groups sent a letter to Emory administrators decrying the ongoing presence of Chick-fil-A.
Emory's Student Government Association also passed a resolution in early December urging Emory to reconsider Chick-fil-A as a campus vendor, and LGBT rights supporters have protested the campus restaurant, located in the Cox Hall food court
The Emory University administration issued a statement Dec. 17 about Chick-fil-A's presence on the Atlanta campus, but declined to ask for removal of the restaurant over its leaders' anti-gay stands.
“Emory University has a long history of creating access, inclusion and equity for Emory's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students, faculty, staff and alumni. Public positions taken by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, do not reflect these values of access, inclusion and equity,” the statement said.
“Another value of Emory University, however, is open expression. Dan Cathy has the right to express his views freely,” it continued.
The statement confirmed that “Emory University will not ask Sodexo [which manages its dining facilities] to exclude or retain Chick-fil-A on the basis of Dan Cathy's public positions.
Concerns and conversations
Emory’s Office of LGBT Life, which is part of the administration, supports the official statement of the university on Chick-fil-A, according to Michael Shutt, director of the office.
Campus Pride, Windmeyer’s organization, “provides a lot of support to students on campuses across the country,” especially for campuses that do not have resources for LGBT students, Shutt said.
Emory uses Campus Pride’s research and “promising practices” resources, he said.
“These resources are created by researchers and professionals from around the country,” Shutt said. “In addition, we participate in Campus Pride’s Campus Climate Index, which we currently have a five-star ranking.”
Asked his reaction to Windmeyer’s column, Shutt declined in the name of LGBT unity.
“Individuals and organizations take on many different roles in our work towards liberation for lesbian, transgender, queer, bisexual, and/or gay people,” Shutt said. “Although there are many concerns that come up for me, it is critical that we do not spend our time tearing down leaders in this movement.
“If we have concerns, we should have conversations within our community, not in public,” he said. “Those who work against our liberation will stand by and watch while we fight each other and destroy our own movement.”
Top photo: Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer posted this photo of him with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy (right) at the Chick-fil-A Bowl to illustrate their friendship. (Photo via Huffington Post; posted by Windmeyer on Twitter)
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