A recent controversy over a local Boise shop, Big City Coffee, abruptly leaving campus has fueled conversations on what kind of companies and businesses Boise State should (or should not) support. Boise State has been very vocal about their values regarding inclusivity and diversity, but another problematic business still resides in our Student Union Building (SUB).
According to the Boise State Statement of Diversity and Inclusion adopted on Feb. 27, 2017, “We believe that prejudice, oppression, and discrimination are detrimental to human dignity, and that a vibrant and diverse campus community enhances the learning environment of the populations that we serve…”
In the same statement, Boise State defined diversity as “the variety of intersecting identities that make individuals unique, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, socio-economic status, age, country of origin, veteran status, abilities, spirituality, religious beliefs, and political beliefs.”
Further, Boise State has committed itself to “unconditionally rejecting every form of bigotry, discrimination, hateful rhetoric, and hateful action.”
Making such statements and commitments would lead me to believe that Boise State would strive to include companies and businesses on campus that align with these values. Starbucks, Subway and Chick-Fil-A all have statements of inclusivity and/or diversity in their values.
However, also among Chick-Fil-A’s expressed values are Christian beliefs. While that on its own is fine for any corporation or business, it has been common knowledge that the Chick-Fil-A Foundation gave near $2 million to non-profit organizations in 2017 that have clear anti-LGBT values.
Tax filings show that Chick-Fil-A donated $1.6 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that is founded on clearly heterosexist beliefs and included such beliefs in their statement of faith.
Another $150,000 to The Salvation Army, which has a history of LGBT discrimination and had a high-ranking official say that gays “deserve death”; and $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, which teaches young people that same-gender marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.”
Now, this is old news. Boycotts were organized nationwide and LGBT advocates spoke out against these injustices. But in 2019, Chick-Fil-A stated that they would take “a more focused giving approach,” and a lot of the heat died down.
However, Chick-Fil-A never explicitly said that they would stop giving to anti-LGBT organizations or organizations that support discrimination against LGBT people. They never made an official statement condemning heterosexism, stating that their values of inclusion and diversity included LGBT people or anything of the sort.
I cannot pretend I do not enjoy a spicy chicken sandwich once in a while. Honestly, I was initially happy to see that there was a Chick-Fil-A location in the SUB. But after looking into the clear anti-LGBT values that Chick-Fil-A holds, by donating to these companies and refusing to make a stance on LGBT rights, makes me question Boise State’s commitment to the values that they claim to hold.
How can a university pledge to support diversity in sexual orientation while hosting a food corporation that has done these things? To me, it seems like a type of privilege that white, cisgender heterosexual people hold. They make claims of inclusivity and diversity, only to turn around and support companies with values far from that.