UNM Staff Council passed a resolution today reaffirming the university’s commitment to diversity and equality, but stopped short of taking aim at Chick-fil-A. Staff Councilor Elisha Allen initiated the resolution in response to national coverage of the fast food chain, its donations to organizations opposing same-sex marriage and recent statements by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy.
Before it was brought to the floor, the resolution was amended to remove language requesting that “an alternate vendor to Chick-fil-A be found to occupy the chain’s location” at the UNM Student Union Building. The final version states:
“The Staff Council rejects discrimination and reaffirms UNM’s commitment to diversity and equality for all of its faculty, staff and students regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sex, sexual preference, gender identity, ancestry, medical condition or spousal affiliation.”
Two main arguments dominated debate on the Staff Council resolution. Supporters of the resolution argued that the presence of Chick-fil-A may create a hostile environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the UNM community. Opponents and supporters of an amendment to remove language specifying Chick-fil-A argued that the resolution amounts to an infringement on freedom of speech.
Ultimately, the resolution passed with amendments removing explicit references to Chick-fil-A and adding, “Whereas the university has engaged with businesses that have been in the national media for their support of policies that impose a form of structural discrimination and are inconsistent with UNM’s commitment to a diverse workforce and diverse student body.”
Chartwells, the supplier of UNM’s campus dining services, released a statement responding to concerns about Chick-fil-A. “Chartwells has a zero tolerance discrimination and harassment policy, which enforces compliance with federal, state and local laws that prohibit discrimination or harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, color, disability, age, pregnancy, national origin, veteran status or any other unlawful factor.”
A statement from Chick-fil-A reads: “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender… Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”