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Open forum shows mixed feelings, views

The University of South Dakota’s Student Government Association hosted a forum Sept. 25 to discuss Chick-fil-A coming to campus.

The discussion was held in light of CEO Dan Cathy’s statements regarding his stance on gay marriage along with the company’s funding of anti-gay groups.

When students voted in fall 2011 for franchises they wanted to bring to campus, Chick-fil-A ranked as the second highest choice.

A main point made by students was what type of message the university would send by allowing the franchise on campus, as opposed to comments directly related to the practices of Chick-fil-A.

“As a community, it is very important that we discuss the values and ethics that are important to us,” graduate student Erica Mize said.

Scott Lederer, USD’s campus minister for the First United Methodist Church, wanted to know what impact the company would make on campus.

“Does this open the door to other companies on campus who fund other discriminatory groups?” Lederer said.

Other students said denying Chick-fil-A the right to be on campus would bring up a tolerance issue.

“Tolerance goes both ways,” graduate student Monique Robinson said. “We may not believe in what they say, but we have to defend their right to say that. We have to make it a safe community for people to express their religious opinions, too.”

First-year Daniel Duncan said that by voting to bring in Chick-fil-A, and then potentially revoking the decision, he would feel as if USD was forcing its opinions onto him.

“The day that the university tells me what to value is the day I go to SDSU,” Duncan said.

SGA President Alissa VanMeeteren said the forum was a success and that more would be held throughout the year concerning other topics.