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Chick-fil-A issue comes to campus

The national Chick-fil-A controversy has spilled over into the University of South Dakota, as plans for the franchise have been proposed for the new Muenster University Center expansion.

Chick-fil-A was chosen by students as the second most popular restaurant choice to come to campus in a survey held during the 2011 fall semester.

The survey was intended to gauge what new restaurants USD faculty, staff and students would like to see added in the MUC expansion.

Since then, remarks made by Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy have impacted many people’s opinions on the southern restaurant franchise, including the opinions of USD students who voted in the survey.

Cathy made a statement during an interview with a Christian news service in July that Chick-fil-A supported “the Biblical definition of the family unit.” This statement began a nationwide call from various companies and organizations to boycott the fast food chain, and sparked a massive social media debate.

In response to the debate on campus, a town hall meeting will be take place on Sept. 25 in the Freedom Forum and is being organized by USD’s Student Government


SGA President Alissa VanMeeteren said the meeting is being organized because the students deserve to have an opportunity to voice their opinions in a more formal


“We believe that it is also equally important for students to listen to the other side of the argument,” Van Meeteren said. “This will be just as much a learning experience as an open mic night.”

VanMeeteren said disagreement does not merit disrespect.

“It is important that we as a coyote family respect all students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni,” she said.

“The meeting will be an open discussion with the community, so that they can have a dialogue about the impact this would have on our students, faculty and the community at large,” Jeff Baylor, USD’s vice president of marketing, enrollment and student services, said. “It’s important for everybody to understand how this will impact people in

our community.”

Baylor explained that the town hall meeting is a great opportunity for USD’s students to come and voice their opinions on the matter.

“SGA really wants to bring our students together and hear from people. That’s what freedom of speech is based on, and we’re supposed to be a community where we have these kinds of discussions,” Baylor said.

Students who take issue with Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus can be expected to make their voices heard at the meeting, said Calli Oberembt, president of the 10 Percent Society, which aims to promote awareness and understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues at USD.

“We would definitely like to have representation in the meeting,” Oberembt said. ”We are working with Nicholas McInerny and the USD outlaws to have a dialogue with the administration, and to ensure that USD is aware of the implications of bringing Chick-Fil-A to the campus as far as our outlook on diversity.”

“This is a really great opportunity for the University of South Dakota to take a stand on respecting diversity and protecting its students’ rights,” Oberembt said.

Reach reporter Nadiah Abuswai at [email protected].