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Chick-Fil-A and Gay Rights Cluelessness on Display in SDSU Senate

The South Dakota State University Students' Association voted Monday to cheer the university administration's decision to bring Chick-Fil-A to campus and make its oppressed homophobic minority feel more included. The student senators then voted against a resolution criticizing dishonest anti-gay rhetoric and reaffirming the SA's commitment to addressing LGBT issues.

I fully fry those chickens in my latest South Dakota Magazine column. But for this week's great moment in journalism, I turn to Marcus Traxler of the SDSU Collegian:

Sen. Austin VanderWal, of the College of Engineering, said he didn't understand how Chick-fil-A was being hateful with their donations, which drew a frustrated response from [Senator Hassan] Ali, who buried his head in his hands [Marcus Traxler, "SA Votes to Support University Decision on Chick-Fil-A," SDSU Collegian, September 17, 2012].

I feel for you, brother. Keep up the good fight, Hassan!


  1. Justin 2012.09.19

    Meanwhile, in the free market, there are how many of these crappy chain outlets in SD?

    Any time there is taxpayer money to be blown, SD Republicans line up to give it away to demonstrate we get Fox News here, too. Who pockets the associated political contributions for this one?

  2. Nick Nemec 2012.09.19

    Keep your eye on Senator Hassan Ali. He's a new citizen with an interest in politics and the process who took the oath of citizenship just this past year. I predict he'll go places.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.19

    As a new citizen, Ali would keenly understand the value of full citizenship and the injustice of denying equal rights to any citizen. I suggest his colleague Mr. VanDerWal might lack that perspective.

  4. Rorschach 2012.09.19

    Hassan Ali has a very promising future. He's far more likely to go places than I am to ever set foot in a Chick-Fil-A.

  5. Jana 2012.09.19

    Cory, I don't think the people who pushed this or voted for it were clueless at all. Unless they were living under a rock...or were in serious training for Hobo Days...these kids knew exactly the message they were sending to people different than them in bringing Chick-Fil-A on campus.

    Seems to me they are spawning young ideologues at a rapid rate...that's not a compliment. One get's the feeling that the student leaders haven't evolved much from their training on elementary playgrounds and the fine art of developing those oh so wholesome junior high cliques.

    Sibby will be pleased that critical thinking is still nearly non-existent in student government at SDSU.

  6. JoeBoo 2012.09.19

    It is quite possible that many of them voted for Chick-Fil-A because of its anti-gay stance. But I'd talked to many who had a similar view I did. It is very difficult to get decent food venders onto campus. Was their anti-gay stance a big enough ordeal to cause them to protest this?

  7. Justin 2012.09.19

    Why would it be difficult to get good vendors on campus for a captive student body?

    Are you implying that they didn't even pay for this right and that it wasn't a competitive process?

    I am very skeptical of those claims. Was there even an RFP?

  8. Jana 2012.09.19

    Justin has brought up the best point yet. Was their an RFP? Had to have been one and that means that is public record.

    Hey student senate at care to make that public for the taxpayers? While you are at it...could we see the other bids?

  9. Jana 2012.09.19

    Pssst...Mr.'s OK now. Chick-Fil-A won't openly fund anti-gay groups anymore. Did you really think that we would believe that you, or your fellow senators did not know that? No wonder Hassan Ali was forced into a face palm.

    Maybe you guys should look at something a little more healthy than deep fat fried chicken and know, that whole freshman 15 and stuff.,0,2032634.story

  10. grudznick 2012.09.19

    What are Chik Fill A's, and why can they not be at SDSU?

  11. Jana 2012.09.19

    Grud...they are angry little chickens that seek to intimidate and deprive certain people of their rights and so they must be cut up, deep fat fried and served to people who are working to support cardiologists.

    The do the same thing to potatoes who can't decide if they are a Potato or a Potahto...only they cut them to look like waffles...then dunk them in burning animal and vegetable fat.

  12. Justin 2012.09.19

    The is question is were they given something of value to taxpayers and what did they give in return? If it's a pure case of market-based rent, there isn't really an issue, IMO.

    They haven't been interested in any market-based rent in Sioux Falls or Rapid City apparently, so it is highly unusual that their first location in state is in Brookings inside a state owned institution with a captive customer base.

  13. grudznick 2012.09.19

    That makes less sense than Mr. Howie and Mr. Nelson explaining public policy.

    Is this some fast food place that gets tax payer subsidy to sell to college students? I say cut the subsidy and let them sell on their own to who ever buys Chik Fill As. or Chik filled whatevers for that matter.

  14. Justin 2012.09.19

    Who knows? That is the question I am raising. It seems like a very attractive business opportunity for them. If they paid what it was worth and the other food operators also had a chance to bid on the opportunity, it probably isn't a subsidy. If somebody decided "we want Chick-Fil-A here because they are against gay marriage and support our values, what will it take for you to set up a business here?" then it's bad business and bad government, but pretty much lock step with the way our state likes to approach "business development" (Especially if below a below market lease was given in exchange for contributions to somebody's PAC).

  15. JoeBoo 2012.09.19

    I don't know the specifics of the financials or what happened in the process to get Chik-Fil-A on campus. However I'd find it very difficult to vote against this move if I was a Senator at SDSU. To get a higher-class fast food chain (higher then McDonalds and BurgerKing), and something that is not familiar to the area would be a score to me.

    I don't support Chik-Fil-A but at the same time many people do.

  16. Justin 2012.09.19

    If I were a student there and found out they didn't even offer it to Qdoba or 5 Guys Burgers and Fries because they were driven by a political agenda that also didn't maximize economics, I couldn't vote for it regardless of the politics. Chick-Fil-A's food sucks, IMO.

    Maybe they weren't interested, but who knows. There are plenty of food chains out there looking for locations. Finding a good location is by far the most important and most difficult process of opening a restaurant business. If they were sitting on a valuable asset and let it run down their leg for a deep frier chain because they hate gay people, there were a lot of misguided and unqualified people at the helm.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.19

    Joe, I'm not sure the votes Monday night had any impact on Chick-Fil-A's coming to campus. The administration approved it, they're coming. The pro-Chick resolution sponsors could have done nothing, and this deal would still happen. The resolution wasn't about ensuring more food choices on campus; it was about ideological grandstanding.

  18. Justin 2012.09.19

    I was about to say the same thing. The students didn't make this decision. I was just raising other questions about the administration's decision.

    It's was a great example of the student government doing what their real government does. Grandstanding to support an issue their constituents clearly don't. If they are lucky they will be the next generation of people fighting against Choice and women's rights despite what our voters have told them.

  19. Dave 2012.09.20

    Meanwhile at USD, this is happening:

    My understanding is that USD students were surveyed on which food chains they would like to see placed in the student center last spring, before everyone knew that the Chick-Fil-A owner is a big conservative homophobic nutjob.

    Chick-Fil-A isn't the only "restaurant" coming to the Vermillion campus:

    Under Construction and Design:
    Muenster University Center Expansion
    Adding 30,000 square feet additional dining space
    Seating capacity expanding to 1200
    Adding retail franchises: Chick-Fil-A, Qdoba, Einstein Brothers and Papa John's
    Remodeling convenience store space in North Complex
    Construction to be complete in early 2014 (

    Again, I believe students were surveyed and collectively decided which chains to be located in the student center. And ... isn't the owner of Papa John's a conservative nutty dude, too?

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