Nick Jacques, News Correspondent
Student Government Association (SGA) senators voted 31 to 5 to denounce a proposal to bring fast food eatery Chick-fil-A to the Curry Student Center. Northeastern administrators confirmed Tuesday that because of the SGA vote, Chick-fil-A will not be coming to campus.
“I think this body came to the correct conclusion,” SGA President Michael Sabo said after the vote. “I will sign this, I will deliver this to Student Affairs tonight and they will be aware of what we decided.”
The initiative to bring the Georgia-based chain to campus began after a student survey in spring 2008, presented to SGA by then-president Ryan Fox. The issue came under student scrutiny after a Feb. 15, 2012 SGA meeting in which Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Laura Wankel presented plans to renovate Curry Student Center and the Marino Center. The renovations are set to bring new food vendors, chosen based on student feedback, into the Curry center in September.
The proposal has sparked a debate over the past two weeks because of Chick-fil-A’s financial support of groups opposed to LGBT rights. According to the LGBT advocacy site equalitynow.org, the WinShape Foundation, which was created by Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and receives millions in support from Chick-fil-A, contributed more than $1.7 million to anti-gay causes in 2009.
“We are pleased of the outcome of Monday Night’s senate resolution,” said Nyul on behalf of the administration. “We are proud of the decision that affirms our University’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all.”
Monday night’s vote on the resolution, officially dubbed a Sense of the Senate, came before the SGA senate as a matter of “emergency business,” which allowed for the body to bring the issue to a vote without announcing it one week ahead of time. SGA Executive Vice President Will Pett said the administration wanted the Senate to pass a resolution before next week’s spring break so the issue could be resolved immediately. The Sense of the Senate was amended to include a clause asking the Office of Student Affairs to review current vendors to ensure they are in line with Northeastern’s values.
In an email to The News, Northeastern Director of Communications Renata Nyul said Chick-fil-A will “not even [be] considered as a result of the vote.”
SGA met with Wankel earlier Monday to discuss the issue and decided the question should go before the Senate, said Kelly Dwyer, SGA’s executive director of communications.
“We agreed that we weren’t comfortable with nine people, being the executive board, making the decision, so we did want to bring it to the senate tonight,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer also said the administration was pushing for a “very speedy response” on the issue.
Nyul said the administration wanted to resolve the issue quickly so new vendors could be considered and the renovations wouldn’t be delayed.
Because the vote was brought up as emergency business, it required a two-thirds majority to pass, which it achieved with 31 in favor, five against, and eight senators abstaining.
Despite the last-minute nature of the debate, more than 10 members of the student body at large came to join in the open discussion. The debate and vote were tabled until the meeting’s open discussion portion, which allowed SGA members to get the word out to students.
The debate lasted about an hour and was largely one-sided in opposition to Chick-fil-A. The senate took more time debating the wording of the Sense of the Senate than the purpose of it.
“We do hope to move forward in ways to better communicate with the student body,” Dwyer said.
The graduate student government passed a similar resolution Monday morning.
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a Chick-fil-A location was initially proposed by Wankel.
Below is the full text of the SGA’s Sense of the Senate:
It is the Sense of the Senate that the undergraduate student body supports Chick-fil-a on the basis of its food alone, but more strongly supports the principle of people over products, and out of respect for the values of the Northeastern community, does not support the addition of Chick-fil-a as an on-campus vendor.
AND FURTHER THAT:Northeastern University Office of Student Affairs should further review current on-campus vendors to ensure that they do not participate in any sort of actions that may harm or discriminate against community members or their values.