The Cal Poly Corporation will re-evaluate its procedures for contracting with outside vendors to emphasize its values of “inclusivity and commitment to community” in the wake of the Chick-fil-A controversy.
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy created a nationwide stir after recent public comments he made lambasting gay marriage advocacy in support of the “traditional” family unit.
“I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about,” Cathy told radio’s “The Ken Coleman Show.”
Cal Poly has a Chick-fil-A Express on campus that was patronized by supporters of Cathy’s statements on Wednesday as part of a nationwide Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.
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Gay rights advocates then protested outside the venue Friday by holding a “kiss-in” involving same-sex kissing as part of a coordinated response outside Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country.
Cal Poly Corporation Director Bonnie Murphy, whose organization contracts with outside vendors, posted a statement on the corporation’s website saying that an advisory group will report back to the university during the winter quarter on its review of procedures.
As it evaluates, the corporation will seek to continue “its long-standing and unequivocal support of Cal Poly’s values on inclusivity and commitment to community,” Murphy said in the statement, noting that core university values include a commitment to “promote the benefits of diversity by practicing and advocating openness, respect and fairness.”
The Cal Poly Corporation has contracted with Chick-fil-A since 1994 and renewed a five-year contract signed in 2010, which it must uphold, Murphy said.
“While the owner of a given business might express opinions that members of our campus community do not support, that individual has a constitutional right to express his or her views,” Murphy said. “Protection of First Amendment rights is a core value of Cal Poly’s, and it is also a legal obligation.”
The university’s nonprofit corporation operates separately from the university but it serves to support the educational mission of Cal Poly.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong directed the Cal Poly Corporation to review Chick-fil-A’s corporate and employment practices and determined that the Atlanta-based chain hasn’t discriminated against any groups.
“So long as both Chick-fil-A and the Cal Poly Corporation fulfill their respective contractual obligations, there would be no legal basis for terminating our current contract,” Murphy said.
In an e-mail Monday, Murphy didn’t respond directly to questions whether Cal Poly would eventually renew the Chick-fil-A contract, saying multiple factors would be considered.
But, she wrote, “The Corporation would not knowingly enter into an agreement with any business that does not uphold the values of the university in its business practices.”