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DSG statement regarding the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game

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Editor's note: The following statement was submitted to Duke and The Chronicle before President Vincent Price and Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics, released a statement in support of the LGBTQ+ community Aug. 27, 2019.

President Price and Dr. Kevin White, 

Recently, the Duke LGBTQ Network shared an open letter expressing concern and requesting action on the 2019 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Duke and Alabama. As an institution that prides itself on its diversity and inclusion, we, as representatives for the undergraduate student body, find it disappointing that Athletics would sign on to a game supported by an organization that has publicly expressed its disdain for the LGBTQ community. 

Duke itself occupies a controversial relationship with the queer community. In the university’s history, University Police have arrested individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, the institution has painted over artwork celebrating the queer community, and administration initially pushed back against opening the Duke Chapel to same sex civil unions, to name a few. However, this has changed somewhat in recent years, with the opening the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the university offering more courses in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies. 

Athletics’ business agreement with Chick-fil-A is in conflict with Duke’s present commitment to continue support for the queer community. In an era of growing homophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, as evidenced by recent events on campus, the university should not prioritize relationships with hurtful businesses over its marginalized students.

Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBTQ sentiments are well documented. For years, the organization has donated millions of dollars to groups that oppose LGBTQ rights, such as groups that oppose same sex marriage and promote conversion therapy as a “cure” for same sex attraction (evidence shows that this does not work and can in fact be deletrious). Chick-fil-A’s current CEO has remained obstinate in spite of criticism, and the head of their charitable branch has referred to the company’s espousal of anti-LGBTQ organizations as a “higher calling.” The corporation has also been implicated in scandals affecting other marginalized communities, including a lawsuit regarding Islamophobic actions

It’s disheartening to learn that, according to the Duke LGBTQ Network, Athletics’ only response was a justification that the contract was signed three years ago. This is not an excuse; Chick-fil-A’s attitudes against the queer community have been known well before that time. The decision to sign onto this game without consideration for its implications on Duke’s queer community calls into question the university’s values.

We agree that the game may provide support to Duke’s football program and serve as display of our school’s athletic prowess. And with it quickly approaching, it is unlikely that Duke will renege on the agreement. However, we stand by the Duke LGBTQ Network in our support for the university to acknowledge its wrongdoing and take action to correct this offense.

Moving forward, we call on administration to find ways to mitigate the harmful consequences of this decision, inviting participation from queer students, faculty, and staff. We extend support to the Duke LGBTQ Network, and offer our support in this process. 

Signed,

The DSG Executive Board: 

Avery Boltwood, Executive Vice President

Kaitlyn Boncaro, VP Services and Sustainability

Saheel Chodavadia, Chief of Staff

Alyson Diaz, President Pro Tempore

Tommy Hessel, VP of Campus Life

Manish Kumar, VP Academic Affairs

Devin Mahoney, SOFC Chair

Liv McKinney, President

Ivan Robles, VP Equity and Outreach

Valeria Silombria, VP Durham and Regional Affairs

Blue Devils United:

Emma Cairns, President

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