CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University officials have decided to renew the college’s contract with Chick-fil-A for another year.
President Bill Perry attended the Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday to inform the members of his decision. The renewal with the fast-food chain will take place in May.
“In general, the issue of having Chick-fil-A on a college campus is wrapped around a number of dimensions of debate,” Perry said in an interview Thursday with the JG-TC.
In October, Faculty Senate members presented Perry with three resolutions regarding Eastern’s contract with Chick-fil-A in the Martin Luther King, Jr. University Union food court.
The resolutions were concerns regarding student workers who do not wish to be employed at Chick-fil-A; the proposed creation of a campus Hate and Bias Motivated Crime Policy; and for the non-renewal of Chick-fil-A’s contract at the union.
Perry said his decision to renew the eatery chain’s contract came about after watching closely the corporate behavior of Chick-fil-A, and by reviewing union food court satisfaction surveys on the quality of food, service and food prices of Chick-fil-A, in addition to taking into consideration the three resolutions brought to him by Faculty Senate.
According to the overall satisfaction rating on the food court satisfaction survey, Chick-fil-A received the highest marks.
“It’s a very complex issue that we studied very carefully and the decision was arrived at after very careful thought and analysis,” Perry said.
The Chick-fil-A site on campus came under scrutiny last year in the wake of a national outcry after the company’s president, Dan Cathy, told a Christian news outlet that the business supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
On Thursday, Perry said, “The person who owns a company may have all sorts of opinions but that’s not the basis we make on a decision for a contract.”
According to Perry, the main concerns he looked at while considering the renewal of the EIU pact with Chick-fil-A were the Faculty Senate resolutions.
“The tension on a national level has decreased so I noted all of this but ... in terms of a decision to fulfill the license agreement for another year, (that decision) was based on concerns expressed in the Faculty Senate resolutions,” Perry said.
Chick-fil-A’s contract is something Perry said he will review on a yearly basis. The eatery has been in the EIU union since 2002, according to Paul McCann, treasurer and director of business services for the university.
Perry said he asked for feedback when he announced the decision Tuesday to the Faculty Senate, but no one spoke up.
Some Eastern faculty, students and community members previously expressed their wishes for another fast-food restaurant to replace Chick-fil-A in the union food court, but Perry said at this time that’s not an option.
According to Perry, Eastern’s budget and the amount of money that would have to be invested to take on a new restaurant in the union food court are just two of the many reasons why Chick-fil-A won’t be replaced at the university right now.
“Chick-fil-A is doing as well as others (in the union food court) so it seemed to be a good business reason to not make a change,” Perry said. “Right now there is no business purpose or reason to look at other vendors.”
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