Chick-Fil-A Controversy Postpones Drive-Through

The senior drive-through put on by Leadership has been postponed due to negative student feedback over serving free food from Chick-fil-A, a restaurant chain with a notorious homophobic past. The event, supposed to take place September 11, is rescheduled for September 25.

Concerns about Chick-fil-A’s long history of donating to anti-LGBTQ+ charities arose when the drive-through was announced to students. Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy was known for his outspoken opinion on same-sex marriage and habitual donations to groups working against LGBTQ+ advocacy, according to Vox.

According to Leadership Advisor Lindsay Webb-Peploe, leadership has only served Chick-fil-A and other caterers on campus for 1 event a year, the Homecoming Carnival, due to strict nutritional guidelines for selling food during the school day.

“The last 2 years that I can remember, 1 of the 4 grades has sold Chick-fil-A as part of the class projects to sell during the Homecoming Carnival. I have heard of a complaint before,” said Webb-Peploe. “Nobody has lodged it formally, and sometimes students have said there are 3 other options at the Homecoming Carnival, so if you wanted to stay true to your beliefs, which I of course support, they could purchase from another vendor.”

Chick-fil-A was chosen as the drive-through vendor because of its previous popularity among students, conveniently prepackaged food (to adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions), and accommodation of large orders, according to senior class president Noel Seo.

Senior Mackenzie Bunzel-Hardie, who said her initial reaction to the email announcing Chick-fil-A as the caterer was “outrage,” was 1 student who voiced her concerns to the school.

Bunzel-Hardie emailed Webb-Peploe shortly after the announcement on September 10 asking to find a new restaurant for the drive-through and for Chick-fil-A to be removed from the school’s catering menu. She posted her email on Instagram to spread awareness among peers.

“I was extremely upset that Campo would continue to support a restaurant that oppresses minority groups after preaching messages to do better,” said Bunzel-Hardie, referencing recent efforts to make Campo a more inclusive place.

“It is important to hold the school accountable for this because every student deserves to feel safe and welcome on this campus. That is the school’s job. And they need to continue to do better for the sake of the kids who attend Campo,” Bunzel-Hardie added.

Hours after Bunzel-Hardie’s email, @campolindoclassof2021 announced on Instagram that the event would be rescheduled and new caterers would be considered.

“The senior officers and I ultimately made the call to reschedule the drive because our priority is to make all members of the senior class feel accepted and heard. It reflects Campo’s new mission statement, which promotes inclusivity and diversity for all students,” said Seo.

The complaint was taken into account and the drive-through was canceled before the school put the deposit down, so no money was lost in the process.

“We are currently looking into other caterer replacements that would meet safety measures and accommodate large orders,” added Seo.

“I am very happy that they have listened to us and have decided to take [Chick-fil-A] off their list of potential caterers,” said Bunzel-Hardie. “This shows that our voices do matter and that we need to keep asking our faculty and peers to do better.”

Webb-Peploe said, “It’s important for student concerns to be taken into account because that’s really what leaders are supposed to do. Our job is to serve the school and listening, gathering feedback, and making decisions based on that student feedback is what we’re supposed to be about.”

“I think it was the right thing for Campo to change the drive-through because it shows allyship and that they care about and want to be allies for LGBTQ+ students,” said senior Katie Price.

Not everyone was happy with the decision to remove Chick-fil-A from the list of caterers. The @campolindoclassof2021 account turned off the comment feature on its post due to student comments opposing the change. Parents took to community app NextDoor to voice their opinions.

1 Nextdoor post, published on September 10, reads, “I think that this is a bit extreme to cancel this for all the seniors who have no good things to look forward to this year. The students who don’t support [Chick-fil-A] could have gladly just not participated in the event instead of canceling it for the hopeful and hungry seniors.”

Some pointed out on social media that since Cathy passed away in 2014, Chick-fil-A has appeared to halt its donations to anti-LGBTQ+ groups. In a press release on November 18, 2019, Chick-fil-A announced that it set aside $9 million to donate to initiatives like hunger and homelessness, according to an article published the day after by Vox.

“[Chick-fil-A hasn’t] apologized for anything that they have done in the past, or anything the owner has said in the past, and they haven’t promised not to donate to anti LGBTQ organizations in the future,” said Bunzel-Hardie. “They have only gone 1 year without donating. How are we supposed to trust that?”

“While I was disappointed to have another senior event be thrown off course, it’s really not a big deal considering that it was rescheduled and not canceled,” said Price. “Anyone who’s truly upset about not getting free chicken served to them is overreacting and needs to consider how actions such as endorsing a potentially homophobic brand affects others.”

According to Seo, she was “not surprised” by the mixed reaction because “part of leadership is that we simply cannot make every student happy. That being said, we have planned extensively for the event and sympathize with the disappointment of our peers more than anyone.”

“We stand by our decision to reschedule because we feel that this would be best for the students and hopefully set a precedent for more thoughtful consideration when selecting which businesses our school should endorse,” added Seo.

“I think something that students aren’t fully taking away is like, regardless of the way students are reacting, the Leadership class is trying to do something nice for the students and really trying to do something nice for the seniors during ‘rona,” said Leadership student Alex Clare.

“I am hopeful that, in the future when Coronavirus gets better and numbers go down that we will have more freedom to have more outdoor, socially-distanced events,” said Webb-Peploe.

Leadership will be sending out Instagram polls for new vendor and raffle options starting the week of September 14 and is looking for student input. “Feel free to email me at [email protected] or DM our class account @campolindoclassof2021 because we would love to hear your suggestions,” said Seo.