Purdue Wins at Chicken

Boilermakers Score Three for Diversity, Inclusion, and Choice

Purdue administrators just navigated a potentially nuclear reactive conflict with perfect diplomatic logic, but chances are, unless you have a Purdue connection, you haven't heard about it. In response to student demand (a student-initiated Change.org petition, "Purdue Needs a Chick-fil-A," had garnered more than 3,000 signatures), the university announced plans to include a Chick-fil-A franchise as part of a new residence hall scheduled to open in 2020.

Predictably, there were objections. Professor Linda Prokopy, who sits on the University Senate's Equity and Diversity Committee, led the charge. "I was very disappointed in Purdue's very fast reaction that we are going to be hosting a company on campus that we know through how they spend their profits discriminates," she said. "I'm extremely disappointed that Purdue is not standing behind our diversity statement." The Committee has put forth a measure that would require commercial ventures on campus to "uphold the same values and promote inclusivity with their policies, hiring practices and actions."

Within the week, the university issued a statement reaffirming its plans "to welcome Chick-fil-A to our campus given the overwhelming demand for their services from students, staff, and faculty." It stated:

While we respect and protect the rights of all to express their opinions at Purdue, this clarification is intended to reassure our students and others that this long-requested dining option will not be taken from them ... 

Like all Purdue vendors, the young woman franchisee, a Purdue graduate, has signed and observed a commitment of equal access and treatment in her employment and service practices. We would not be promoting choice and freedom by depriving thousands of people in our community of a choice they have long sought ... And, we would not be practicing inclusion by excluding a completely legitimate business and its staff from our campus.

Dr. John Gates, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, added:

We are fortunate to be a campus that embraces excellence through diversity and freedom of expression and choice for all people. The Chick-fil-A operator on campus is bound by Purdue's non-discrimination policy statement, and we look forward to them respecting our institutional core values of integrity, honor, respect, inclusion, innovation and growth.


The entire grievance climate against Chick-fil-A traces back to a 2012 Baptist Press interview where Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy affirmed support for the traditional family and acknowledged that the company supports marriage ministries. Those two infractions constitute the sum total grounds on which Chick-fil-A's accusers charge it with "discrimination," and weaker-willed decision-makers in places of authority have capitulated to their demands.

            But not Purdue. Look at the brilliant simplicity of what Purdue's decision-makers did. They: (1) Respected a plurality of their students, (2) Called the protestors' bluff by pointing out that Purdue already has policies in place to guard against actual discrimination, (3) Held the line on true definitions of words, including welcome, freedom, diversity, inclusion, and choice.

            This is how tolerance and diversity work. Protestors retain the free choice to complain and eat elsewhere. And everyone else enjoys the freedom to Eat Mor Chickin.

 is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

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