Over the years, Duke has had a number of situations where it put pressure on companies that have ties to the University. I can recall a time when Students Against Sweatshops had demonstrations out in front of the chapel. Now, the Duke University Stores is pretty particular about where the garments they sell are made and the conditions of the workers who make them (OK, maybe not the Nike ones, but you get my point).
I’d like to offer a new call. A call for light to be shone on Chick-fil-A. A longtime partner of Duke with a campus location and a partnership with Duke Athletics, Chick-fil-A is openly against gay marriage and same sex unions. The WinShape Foundation, started by the founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, even holds conferences for those who oppose gay marriage.
Some will argue that a company should be able to use its profits however it pleases and that we shouldn’t tell them what to do. I agree completely. Instead, I’m telling all of you how Chick-fil-A uses its money, and you can decide for yourself if that is compatible with the kinds of values you’d like to financially support by purchasing its products.
Others will argue that it is OK for Chick-fil-A to abide by its founders’ Christian beliefs. I agree completely. I’m not making the case that Chick-fil-A should be open on Sundays. Just like the famous B&H Photo in New York City, owned by an orthodox Jewish family, the observation of the sabbath is totally fine. B&H, however, doesn’t funnel large sums of money into other groups like Focus on The Family, which supports giving homosexuals ‘reparative therapy.’
At a place like Duke, where we have a history of activism and a culture that strives to accept others and be agents of change, Chick-fil-A is no longer in keeping with the institution and the values of the people here. In short, this is where its lack of corporate social responsibility deservedly should come back to haunt them.
NB: The staff working at Chick-fil-A should stay. I love those folks.