The truth behind Chick-fil-a on campus


Emma Seely, Managing Editor

According to Patrick Linn, Director of Auxiliary Services at UNO, Chick-Fil-A has been located in UNO’s University Center since 2009. The controversial restaurant was smaller back then, offering only limited options in its first iteration at UNO. The controversy was smaller then too, especially in comparison to the overwhelming mix of credibly reported donations to anti-LGBTQ charities the company has logged recently. But even as these reports come out, students continue to patronize Chick-Fil-A’s new, larger location, leaving the restaurants’ critics feeling abandoned by a university that has usually had their best interests at heart. Is UNO to blame for these negative feelings associated with Chick-Fil-A’s continued presence? Linn doesn’t seem to think so. 


“[Chick-Fil-A] was, by far, the most popular retail outlet on campus, that was even with Popeyes,” Linn says. “It outsells Subway and did outsell Popeyes and currently outsells Moe’s. It’s the number one retail outlet on campus, so that kind of speaks a little bit for itself with its popularity in the UNO community.” 


As the Director of Auxiliary Services, Linn describes himself as being “responsible over those areas on campus that do not rely on any type of state financial aid,” such as the University Center, and its restaurants. When it is time for Linn and his department to select a new restaurant, they collaborate with a wide range of groups representing students, administration, and even federal entities. 


“The number one thing that we look at [when selecting a restaurant] is the feedback from students and the UNO community,” Linn says. “That’s the number one thing, but there really are a lot of other factors that come into play. We have a food service committee that we listen to. They meet regularly in the fall and spring. We get feedback through student involvement, housing, leadership from student organizations. We generally involve the FDA.”


There are, of course, other logistical factors that come into play when selecting a restaurant as well, such as national trends, performance on other college campuses, and financial feasibility. Popeyes, a restaurant that several UNO students selected as a worthy replacement for Chick-Fil-A, used to have a location at UNO, but was closed down due to the volume of student business not being enough to support the franchise. 


It is no secret that, unlike Popeyes, Chick-Fil-A never has and likely never will experience a volume low enough to send them away from UNO. Student opinion has always been overwhelmingly positive, as anybody involved in the process of maintaining the restaurant for UNO would be quick to share. In fact, Linn and his committees don’t seem to hear any negative feedback at all. 


“We’re not hearing any of that,” Linn says. “We do meet regularly with food services committees that represent the students on campus and we also take surveys throughout the semesters that represent the entire UNO community. And we really don’t.”


This hasn’t always been the case though. Back in 2012, Chick-Fil-A’s controversial donations began to become more public, prompting a series of nation-wide protests, including one held at UNO. But even though Linn was there for this protest, he believes that Chick-Fil-A was able to sway public opinion, at least at UNO, by guaranteeing that there was no corporate discrimination taking place. 


“I know that Chick-Fil-A has made a number of public statements declaring that they do not discriminate in their hiring practices, nor do they discriminate against those that they serve,” Linn says. “I remember in 2012 there were some questions that arose from the students, but apparently they were satisfied that no discrimination was going on within [Chick-Fil-A’s] hiring practices or with those that they serve.”


Regardless of whether those students in 2012 were satisfied with Chick-Fil-A’s statement or not, it is clear that Chick-Fil-A still faces opposition from the UNO community, even if the opposition is not as loud, or as visible, as the support. This all goes back to Linn’s distinguishing between a “corporate policy” and a “CEO belief.” 


“As far as corporate goes, they are not discriminating [against] the people they hire or the people for which they serve. And if they did do that, then, of course, we would have serious issues. You might look at it in another way too. Some people may not agree, for example, with Chick-Fil-A’s policy is to close on Sunday. And a lot of people may or may not agree with that type of Christian philosophy.”


Linn is certainly correct in saying that Chick-Fil-A is not sparking controversy for unfair hiring practices or for its corporate decisions to close on Sundays. They are, however, under scrutiny for their CEO’s choice to make several monetary donations towards organizations that have shown themselves to be homophobic through policy and rhetoric. Whether this is enough to remove the restaurant from campus will remain a heated debate topic, even as the new locations’ lines grow. 


“I don’t think in this instance, just based on the student reception of Chick-Fil-A, that it seems to be an issue that’s on the forefront and of concern to the general population,” Linn says. “Really if we were hearing issues and concerns, we would definitely take that into consideration as much as the duration and positive feedback of these outlets. But we really haven’t, other than back into 2012, there was a slight effort to boycott on that day. I guess the track record is speaking for itself.”