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Overruled: Despite Clear Student Preferences, NJ University Bans Chick-fil-A From Campus Dining Survey

Chick-fil-A, according to customer satisfaction surveys, is the top-rated fast food chain in America --winning the crown for three consecutive years.  It seems as though consumers enjoy the company's delicious fried chicken offerings and their renowned, high quality service.  According to multiple reports, Chick-fil-A's fan base includes quite a few students at Rider University, a private institution in New Jersey.  When school officials distributed a survey about on-campus dining options this past spring, Chick-fil-A emerged as the top choice.  Such an injustice could not stand, administrators decided, so they've stripped the restaurant from the questionnaire's list of options -- because "values:"


Rider University removed the restaurant from a survey of dining options "based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community." The fast-food chain was included in previous surveys. Chick-fil-A has supported Christian values. Its corporate purpose is "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us." ... Rider says it understands some may view the decision as a "form of exclusion" and called the decision "imperfect." But the school says it wanted to be "faithful to our values of inclusion." "We understand that some may view the decision as being just another form of exclusion," University President Dr. Gregory G. Dell’Omo and Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Leanna Fenneberg said in a joint statement. "We want to be clear that this was not the spirit in which the decision was made. We fully acknowledge an organization’s right to hold these beliefs, just as we acknowledge the right for individuals in our community and elsewhere to also personally hold the same beliefs."

How very magnanimous of the university to acknowledge that individuals in their community have the right to "personally" adhere to traditional Christian teachings. But if those community members would like to eat crave-able food from a popular company whose top leadership has incorporated orthodox religious teaching into their corporate value structure, they'll have to go elsewhere. In fact, these individuals will not even be permitted to vote for their (and many others') primary preference, as it's been banished from the roster of options by the powers that be.  "Inclusive" values are just too important, you see, even if that means excluding the values (or tastebuds) of many Rider students.  Inclusion requires exclusion, and some are more worthy of inclusion than others.  Many of the Left's hangups over Chick-fil-A stem from 2012 statements from corporate executives in support of the traditional family unit, and in opposition to same-sex marriage.  Agree or disagree, these beliefs were -- and are -- part of a mainstream worldview that should not be automatically treated as synonymous with bigotry or discrimination.  In a statement to the media, Chick-fil-A reiterated its commitment to serving chicken lovers from all walks of life:


The chain pushed back against the university's characterization, saying the restaurant is merely providing food and doesn't have any agenda. "Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone. We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda," the restaurant's spokesperson told CBS News.

In our book End of Discussion, Mary Katharine Ham and I decried what conservative writer and social critic Sonny Bunch has termed 'the politicized life,' wherein politics and ideology consume all aspects of society and culture. It's unhealthy and soul-crushing. We add that the rejection of hyper-political life choices should run both ways. For instance, as a conservative who strongly opposes socialism, I have all sorts of issues with various corporate values espoused by Ben & Jerry's ice cream, to pick one example.  But I'd be furious if my school barred me from buying their products on campus because of their founders' aggressive leftism.  I'd be even more furious if my university actively prevented me from even registering my interest in Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  I don't really care that Ben and Jerry are left-wingers from Vermont; I care that they make a wonderful product (Pistachio Pistachio, Americone Dream, and Cherry Garcia are among my favorites, for the record).  In the book, we urged Americans who aren't interested in allowing hardcore partisans to pollute apolitical elements of life to band together into a "coalition to chill the hell out" and eat delicious chicken.  It looks like many Rider students were happy to sign up for that club, but the supposed adults in charge chose to impose their personal values onto everyone else.  


Remember, exclusion is bad unless the "bad" are being excluded, and the imposition of morals is theocracy, unless the morals are "good."  Just ask any number of liberal politicians.  I'll leave you with a follow-up to yesterday's item concerning recent developments out of Twitter -- which has announced that the platform will not permit the "misgendering" or "dead-naming" of trans people.  The social media company says that it does not discriminate against any viewpoint, but I'm not sure that claim remains tenable:

I happen to believe that trans individuals should be treated with respect, in accordance with the Golden Rule, which entails calling people by their preferred names and pronouns.  I also don't see eye-to-eye with every belief held by the top leadership of Chick-fil-A.  But I don't think attempts to enforce beliefs through bans or boycotts are usually wise, persuasive, effective, or conducive to an free-thinking and pluralistic society.  I'll leave you with a common sense quote from a Rider student: "If people didn't want to buy their food, then they don't have to."  Well, people at Rider do want to buy their food.  They just won't be allowed to, or even register their desire to do so.


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