Stockton Student Senate to Send Letter of Resolution Asking Chick-fil-A to Leave Campus

The Senate voted 14-10, with two abstensions. The resolution now goes before President Herman J. Saatkamp.

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Student Senate will ask the college president to consider dismissing Chick-fil-A from its campus.

The 27-member Senate voted 14-10, with two abstensions to send a letter of resolution to Stockton College President Herman J. Saatkamp asking Chick-fil-A to leave the campus in Atlantic County's Galloway Township. The Senate needed 14 votes for approval. Senate President AJ Vervoort abstains unless his vote is needed to break a tie.

According to Vervoort, the letter of resolution will be sent to Saatkamp on Monday morning, Nov. 26. It will then be up to Saatkamp if he wants to look into breaking the 10-year contract with the chicken franchise that has weathered a storm of controversy since comments made by its president over the summer.

The Stockton Affiliated Services contract is with Chartwell’s, which then has contracts with the restaurants in the Campus Center. However, money from the college students’ meal plans go to Chick-fil-A automatically.

“We look forward to seeing the resolution, and the president will take it under advisement,” Special Assistant to President Saatkamp Sharon Schulman said. “We will weigh the pros and cons and take the proposal under serious advisement.”

Over the summer, it was reported that Chick-fil-A’s charitable organization the WinShape Foundation donates to the Family Research Council, which reportedly lobbied against a resolution that would denounce Uganda’s so-called “Kill the Gays” bill. The bill calls for the death penalty for anyone who commits an act of homosexuality, which has been deemed a crime in Uganda.

The Family Research Council denied it was opposing the resolution, stating its goal was to clarify inaccuracies about homosexuality being a fundamental human right across the globe.

A recent survey of Stockton students found support for keeping the restaurant on campus. Of the roughly 1,600 students who participated in the survey, 66 percent voted to keep Chick-fil-A on campus. According to Student Senator Ben Peoples, about 300 people surveyed opted not to answer the question.

“Chick-fil-A was causing problems to arise on campus, and we could see the division,” Vervoort said. “We want all students to feel welcomed and supported.”

According to Student Senate Vice President David Lamando, members of the Stockton Pride Alliance, which represents the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at the college, have attended the Senate’s last two meetings to express concerns about being discriminated against.  According to Lamando, they feel the discrimination is being encouraged by Chick-fil-A’s presence at Stockton.

The vote was close, and not everyone spoke out in support of the resolution. Senators and students alike felt the issue was a matter of free speech.

“No one can tell you that what you feel is wrong,” Student Senator Matthew Monte said. “We were elected to serve the students, and 66 percent want to keep Chick-fil-A. I’m going to side with my people.”

Senators are elected by the student body. The top 27 vote-getters are elected to the Senate, which then chooses the president among themselves. Senators don’t take an oath of office, and don’t swear to uphold the Constitution.

“Our concern is with Stockton policies,” Vervoort said. “We follow those values and the school’s mission statement.”

“Chick-fil-A does not violate our mission statement,” Student Senator William Inacio said. “Why should we remove them because they have opinions that we don’t support personally?”

“Just by them being here, we support them whether I buy anything from them or not,” Student Senator Kaitlin Cibenko said. “I’m not comfortable with that.”

“Stockton is a public institution, so if you pay taxes in New Jersey, you’re supporting Chick-fil-A,” Student Senator Jessica Carey said.

Some senators felt it wasn’t a matter of free speech, but more a matter of human rights. Student Senator Manar Hussein believes the Senate vote now opens the door for discussion of other issues involving human rights.

“Regardless of if I’m the only one who feels a certain way or if there are many, if even one person advocates for human rights in another country, I expect the same amount of research to be done,” Hussein said. “With Chick-fil-A, it was such an uproar, I ask that you be fair to whatever demographic brings an issue, out of respect. I expect you to do the same research for everyone.”

“All issues will be addressed in a serious matter,” Vervoort said following the meeting. “We will deal with the issues that have the highest impact among Stockton students.”

Student reaction was mixed.

“I think you launched a missile to kill a mouse,” Stockton Senior Josh Kropkof said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “I’m very concerned with what the Senate will look at in the future. If a group on campus is saying something controversial, will the Senate bring that group forward for explusion? If a professor is saying things that are pretty offensive, will the Senate ask him to be dismissed? While you congratulate yourselves, remember you imposed your will the student body. You’re supposed to represent the students instead of pushing your own agendas.”

“Anytime you vote on the side of human rights, it’s the right thing to do,” Stockton Senior Don Scheer said. “This is the first step toward supporting human rights.”

Dee wright November 21, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Gimme a break. If you don't want to eat there then stay away. How can you try to ruin someone's life work because You Don't Agree with what they think!! Get a job oops that's right no. Jobs out there because of idiot in charge. I don't agree with you but I would treat you right if I met you.
Jim November 21, 2012 at 02:44 PM
The company enjoys freedom of speech, as do we all. It seems to me that your strength is not in ousting them from your campus but by creating a business environment that causes them to withdraw voluntarily. This would be done by boycotting. Simple and effective. Its great to hear of your social consciousness. Good luck! Jim Arthur
Linda Mathis November 21, 2012 at 03:28 PM
The job of a government representative is not to simply push their constituents' majority opinion. It is to try to best represent their people WHILE insuring that the Minority's rights are not trampled upon. If government was simply majority rule - our country would still have slaves and Christianity would be mandatory. Reminds me of the Taliban. This country was established out of a desire for freedom to be individuals, without fear of being voted a citizen with fewer rights by a differing majority. Kudos to this group for drawing a line in the sand and saying "we choose to financially support organizations that value our freedoms to be different from the majority - not those who use their financial influence to encourage prejudice and worse". We all have the Obligation to vote with our pocketbooks - and purchase from businesses that protect the environment, resources, and our society. Businesses don't have the Right to our money, without regard to what they choose to use that money for. They must earn our money with both a superior product AND responsible business ethics.
Sam Lavner November 21, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Jim and Linda make good sense. Students may achieve their goal by boycotting the business and by doing so not directly having it shut down as punishment for the statements and actions of the business owners. The one departure from Jim and LInda, for me, springs from the "actions" part. The business has actively promoted what I consider to be ugly, destructive, bigotted behavior - it has not simply thrown some money toward a philosophical belief or political position. That action may warrant stronger recourse from the host communtiy than some of its members passively refusing to spend money there: if not to ask the college admin to give the business the boot, then at least to ask the business to leave.
Don Coggins November 21, 2012 at 05:33 PM
If you don't want to eat there then don't.Thats the trouble liberals today,mind your own business stop killing business.Obama is doing a good job of it si don't help him. Don
Matt Kemenosh November 21, 2012 at 08:32 PM
pluh- ease,,,, get over your selves student body,,, as stated earlier you don't like their policies,,, don't eat there,,,, boycott,, freedom of expression goes both ways,,, liberals only want it one way and if you don't agree with their's well lets not allow to exist,,,
Matt Kemenosh November 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM
and as stated 65% want it on campus,,, hmm wonder why,,, product is better than good and people like it,,,
Matt Kemenosh November 21, 2012 at 08:39 PM
@ sam - no he did not engage in bigotted behavior,, the man was asked a question on his belief-HIS BELIEF- of marriage in an interview,, he simply stated that,,,," he believed marriage is between a man and woman...", period,,, then story picked up and got wildly run amok,, I may not agree with someone but will defend his or her right to say it,,,, not try to destroy
Fred Naegele November 21, 2012 at 09:11 PM
College brats just need something to protest about. They need to study more and drink less booze,etc.... Maybe they need to start thinking about how THEY ARE GOING TO PAY FOR THIER COLLEGE EDUCATION !!!!!! HAAAAAAAAAA
Fred Naegele November 21, 2012 at 09:13 PM
John Hayes November 22, 2012 at 11:52 AM
No one else caught the cum hoc fallacy in the artical? (Apparently not the students. Do they take logic or rhetoric these days?)
Frank Ferone November 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM
The problem with this decision; that it is based on the argument that the senate body is protecting the rights of the minority, is that the interpretation of those rights is too broad. Chick-fil-A and it's employees did not break any laws, the owner expressed his opinion as protected by our first amendment right. HIs "crime" seems to be saying something not popular with a particular group. This is not an example of a violation of human rights. The larger concern is the potential violation of constitutional rights. Mr. Kropkof is absolutely correct to be concerned. History has many lessons that illustrate the unfortuante outcome when a government party tramples individual rights.
Parker Miller November 22, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Isn't it interesting that liberals claim to want freedom of speech until it disagrees with their viewpoint. Then there is no latitude for another point of view. Should we all start to boycott any business or organization that has voiced an opinion opposite of ours?
Linda Mathis November 24, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Chick-fil-A has no constitutional right to have the contract to feed these students. The school, with input from the student senate and student body, but the school itself, will vote with IT'S pocketbook as to whether it chooses to support a franchise that has made it clear that it may use that money to support intimidation of minorities. The school has the freedom to choose to support corporations that serve the greater good. YOU all have an obligation to support corporations that further your own personal beliefs. It's as important or even more important than voting. I'm sure you all agree that "buying american" is a great idea. For the same reasons - buy from those you want to see grow and continue to do what they do for our planet and society. The student senate made a statement about supporting those who trample individual rights. They were looking at something a little larger than whether they like chicken tenders, which is likely primarily what the rest of the student body was concerned with. Kudos to them for being a bit larger than the rest of us - who don't really want to know how the products we buy at Walmart can be made soooo cheaply. We just want to save a buck. And so it goes - sadly.
Sam Lavner November 25, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Linda - Thanks for this cogent and beautifully written post.
Josh Kropkof November 27, 2012 at 06:21 AM
My contention to the senate was basically a slippery slope argument, which I think is valid in this case. Their premise was that because a portion of the money we pay for our meal plans go directly to Chick Fil A corporation, we are in effect supporting Chick Fil A's views whether we agree with them or not. Since the minority group in question is offended by Chick Fil A's views and their donating practices (which they assert support violation of human rights), the company should therefore be removed from campus so that students are no longer "forced" to support their views and donating practices. My question was does this mean that the senate can vote to remove any group from campus that it contends offends the rights of minority groups on similar grounds? For example, the College Republicans might make donations to pro-Israel groups. Since many students of Palestinian ethnicity on campus believe Israel is guilty of human rights violations against their people, they could reasonably be offended. In theory the College Republicans is a group supported by the college as are many other organizations on campus. Could the same arguments not be made in this case that they should then be asked to be removed from campus in light of their "offensive" donating practices? The same thing could be said of Christian groups on campus, whose donating practices often go towards organizations that are traditional in their views on marriage, abortion, etc. Could they then be expelled?
Josh Kropkof November 27, 2012 at 07:29 AM
If you are referring to the minority students' contentions that they are being discriminated against more frequently simply because of Chick Fil A's presence on campus, this fallacy was pointed out numerous times during debate and discussion sessions. Most students did catch it. The fallacy that was not as easily recognized was the piling of inferences used to suggest that somehow our meal plan $$ are supporting genocide of homosexuals in Uganda simply because Chick Fil A is present on campus. Somehow this outrageous argument was allowed to be repeated virtually uncontested.
Josh Kropkof November 27, 2012 at 09:37 AM
Linda, Allowing the Chick Fil A to remain on campus through its ten-year contract, as it was chosen by the students to be a part of the campus center two years ago without ANY opposition from any groups at the time, would simply be maintaining the status quo. This would not amount to any "majority opinion" being forced on anyone. What has happened here is that a small group of "offended" individuals on campus have used their political power through the student senate to take away something that was enjoyed by the vast majority of students on campus. No perceived wrong from the venue could justify such an intrusion on the liberty of the students who simply wish to enjoy the services they are paying for. They don't care about the views or donating practices of the restaurant and why should they? What difference does it make on the value of the services they provide? The beauty of a free market system is that it does not discriminate. We consume products and services every day throughout the course of our lives with no regard to the views, beliefs, preferences, or values of the providers of those products or services, or of their employees. The donating practices of a business should not matter to you if you like the product or service they provide. Chick Fil A did not discriminate against its employees or customers, and they have every right to express their personal views through their donations or public statements. Those who disagree need not give them business.
Josh Kropkof November 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM
As I stated above, personally boycotting the establishment is surely the right of the individual. But the school and the students in this case chose two years ago to have Chick Fil A as a part of the campus center, and it is not the right of a particular group to force the rest of us to participate in a boycott of services that we wish to continue supporting. True that most of us were concerned with the fact that we like the restaurant's products. That is our right. That does not make the student senate "larger than the rest of us." It simply means that they feel their personal rejection of the beliefs of one organization transformed into a boycott is commendable as serving some greater good, and they wrongly feel (as you do apparently) that their cause is more compassionate and admirable than the preferences of the rest of us, therefore justifying their intrusion on our rights and enabling them to impose their views on us. This is not so. Boycotting would have no effect on the perceived ills they wish to remedy, and if it were to have any negative effect it would be on the most vulnerable casualties of the industry: employees and consumers who bear no responsibility for the views of the company. Furthermore, neither our tax money nor our meal plan dollars paid to the school effectively force us to endorse the views of Chick Fil A. This argument is another fallacy and has been discredited by our Supreme Court (see: Zelman v. Simmons-Harris -2002).
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Eleanor March 07, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Freedom means that if you want to eat at a certain restaurant you can, and if you dont want to you dont have to. It does not mean that because you do not agree with the corporation that owns the restaurant you shut it down so that nobody can eat there. If the majority of students oppose Chick Fil A, they will eat somewhere else and the restaurant will close down for lack of business. Since 66% of the surveyed students were okay with keeping Chick Fil A on the campus, or the minority to shut it down because they opposed it is kind of like bullying. Funny how the political persuasion that always talks about being for free speech and against bullying are the biggest shut-uppers and bullies.


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