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Dining Services grilled over Chick-fil-A expansion

Chick-fil-A is the most popular single retail location on campus with an average of about 9,000 guests weekly. ORACLE PHOTO/HALEY WIRTH

USF’s Commitment To Honor states that the university respects “the dignity and intrinsic value of all persons.”

However, Elan Pavlinich, a visiting professor and English graduate student, said he believes USF Dining Services is not being held to that same standard with its affiliation with Chick-fil-A.

“I would like to hold USF Dining Services accountable for violating the ethical standards that all students, faculty and staff have to follow,” Pavlinich said. “Students need to be informed where their money is going when they spend money in the [Marshall Student Center] or [USF] Library.”

Pavlinich was prompted to email a letter to students asking them to boycott Dining Services. He instead encouraged students to dine in at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore Cafe or bring a lunch to campus because the money spent at Dining Services could end up at Chick-fil-A.

In Pavlinich’s letter, he is referring to the controversies Chick-fil-A has faced from LGBTQ organizations.

This includes Chick-fil-A’s donations to organizations that fund anti-LGBTQ efforts such as the activist group Family Research Council.

The organization was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010, according to Business Insider. The Family Research Council has statements on its website about homosexuality being “harmful” and “unnatural.”

However, the article continued by saying that Chick-fil-A has ceased its donations to all political groups and those organizing against LGBTQ rights in 2012. But, the $1,653,416 Fellowship of Christian Athletes donation and the $150,000 Salvation Army donation have raised criticisms in recent years because the groups have been accused of being against same-sex marriage.

The movement has also expanded worldwide recently as the first Chick-fil-A in the U.K. closed last week, six months after opening, because of LGBTQ protests.

Pavlinich said he wanted to join the similar efforts of students from the University of Kansas (KU) who are trying to have the Chick-fil-A banned from their campus.

In the KU letter, it states: “While we recognize that contractual obligations did not allow the complete removal of the brand from campus, we are outraged that they have been allowed to move from the Wescoe Underground to a new, bigger, more central location on the University of Kansas campus.”

Sound familiar?

Last summer, Dining Services expanded the Chick-fil-A in the MSC to be a full-service location. Marketing Director Jessica Cicalese said this was done to expand the menu and be more customizable to students. 

Now, Chick-fil-A is the most popular single retail location on campus with an average of about 9,000 guests weekly, according to Cicalese.

Pavlinich said he does not believe removing the Chick-fil-A would be a feasible option so instead he would like to see Dining Services donate to LGBTQ organizations.

Cicalese said in an effort for Dining Services to show its commitment and dedication to USF’s mission, it stands with USF Student Affairs’ Love over Hate Campaign, which is meant to promote positivity around campus.

“We want everyone to feel welcome when they walk through all of the dining locations across campus,” Cicalese said in an email to The Oracle. “USF is a strong and inclusive community and we want to assure our operations on the USF Tampa campus respect these values. We want to make it clear that our sole focus is on providing a quality dining experience at USF.”

Cicalese said Dining Services met with representatives from USF P.R.I.D.E. Alliance, — a LQBTQ organization on campus — the Committee on Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (CISOGI) and Dean of Students Danielle McDonald about being more inclusive on campus.

“In this meeting, we discussed guests speaking at USF P.R.I.D.E meetings and sharing our best practices around the composition of our workforce and offerings,” Cicalese said. “We discussed partnering on staff training, similar to the many other departmental/operational trainings that are issued to the USF team.”

Pavlinich said he hopes his letter is able to spread to more parts of campus to show students how harmful he thinks Chick-fil-A is.

“If you are going to tell USF students that they have to abide by ethical standards, it is problematic that Dining Services would expand [the Chick-fil-A] space and even more so support that franchise.”