Chick-fil-A in the Marshall Student Center serves thousands of students a year, but an online petition started by a USF professor on Change.org is calling for the vendor to be removed from campus.
Students across the country have been protesting Chick-fil-A restaurants since the corporations president and CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments condemning gay marriage earlier this year after the chicken chain came under fire for donating to conservative organizations such as Focus On the Family, the Family Research Council and Exodus International, each commonly criticized for their anti-gay rights positions.
Scott Ferguson, an assistant professor of humanities at USF, created the petition to remove the restaurant from campus, and hes not alone. Petitions are being signed for Chick-fil-A to be removed from numerous other college campuses as well, with one liberal arts college in North Carolina banning the chain from their campus.
The petition, which had over 650 signatures as of Tuesday night, reads:
As a campus that stands for diversity and inclusion, the University of South Florida should not fund a company that supports anti-equality measures. LGBT rights are human rights and no university should cooperate with a group that is openly against human rights. By removing the Chick-fil-A vendor from the Marshall (Student) Center, the USF community will affirm its commitment to all of its members.
Ferguson said he did not wish to comment to The Oracle.
Signers of the petition which include USF students, faculty and staff are asked to include their full name and their reason for supporting the petition.
Ellwood Janny wrote, In my opinion, having Chick-fil-A on our campus does not send a positive message about diversity or respect.
Nathan Warren wrote, Chick-fil-A has blatantly donated its corporate funds to hate organizations that wish to legislate the denouncement of equal rights to U.S. citizens based on sexual orientation.
Some students, however, arent as passionate about getting rid of the Marshall Student Centers chicken chain.
I live off campus, and dont have a meal plan, Alexander Bentancor, a sophomore majoring in engineering said. Chick-fil-A is like the most affordable option here.
Shanice Thompson, president People Respecting Individual Diversity and Equality, said in an email to The Oracle that the removal of Chick-fil-A from the University of South Florida is a testament to the better treatment of people.
Thompson said Chick-fil-As presence at the university elicits an image that USF stands with the ideals expressed by the companys president, but said she believes USF is a truly progressive university and is ever-changing and growing in positive directions.
Cathy, who has visited college campuses as recently as Tuesday, is looking for common ground with activists, according to The Advocate, a LGBT rights publication.
Aramark, which handles restaurant contracts at USF, was unavailable for comment at the time of printing.