University of Notre Dame Constructs Anti-LGBTQ Chik-Fil-A Over Student Objections

The University of Notre Dame is constructing a Chik-fil-A franchise outlet on campus, a move supported by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, but to which hundreds of students and others have objected.

The controversy began this summer when two students, Tilly Keeven-Glascock and Joey Jegier, wrote a letter in campus newspaper The Observer about the plan. The two raised “serious ethical concerns” about the restaurant chain, which has a high-profile record of financially supporting anti-LGBTQ and pro-conversion therapy causes. (The students also objected to the chain’s lack of ethical food practices.)

Keeven-Glascock and Jegier’s letter began a conversation, which led to a petition against the Chik-fil-A construction. It gained roughly 200 signatories, according to the National Catholic Reporter. But the situation attracted attention far outside the Notre Dame community, too:

“After Fox News published an article about the controversy, Keeven-Glascock said she and the other authors, Jim Moster and Joey Jegier, immediately began to receive online harassment, including death threats.

“The trio alerted campus dining officials about the harassment in a July 14 email shared with NCR: ‘The [Fox] article mischaracterized us as trivial “cancel culture” activists with an anti-Christian agenda, which could not be further from the truth. We just wish for our retail dining experience to match Notre Dame’s commitment to social justice and charity toward all.’

“The students say they received no direct response about the harassment, but Luigi Alberganti, senior director of campus dining, met July 19 with PrismND, the undergraduate LGBTQ group, and a representative of Notre Dame’s Herbivore Society. Keeven-Glascock is secretary of PrismND. . .

“After Notre Dame released news of plans for the Chick-fil-A, Sen. Graham again chimed in on Twitter: ‘Well done to all the patriots at Notre Dame who stood up for Chick-fil-A and against Cancel Culture.'”

Keeven-Glascock commented, “It was never a war, it was never an us. vs. them.” Instead, the students’ effort was actually a commitment to the school’s Catholic identity and pursuit of social justice values that include, but went beyond LGBTQ equality. NCR reported:

“Mary D’Angelo, a retired Notre Dame professor of New Testament and religion, said she signed the petition because it supported her Catholic values.

“‘The labor practices and the factory farming practices undermine Catholics’ commitments to the just treatment of workers and the care for the environment,’ D’Angelo said. ‘They’re [factory farming practices] not good for climate change, they’re not good for care for the earth.'”

Regardless of the controversy, a Chik-fil-A will now be on Notre Dame’s campus. NCR reported on the administration’s decision:

“In a statement, the university said it had ‘examined the concerns surrounding Chick-fil-A’s charitable giving, discussed them with company representatives, campus partners and students and believes that Chick-fil-A has responded to these issues in a satisfactory manner.'”

While the situation may not have ended in the manner that Keeven-Glascock and her peers had hoped, nonetheless she called it an “unexpectedly valuable” opportunity to open conversations about how to make the University a more welcoming, just, and enjoyable community.

In a related, more positive note, a new LGBTQ group has launched at Saint Mary’s College, which is also in South Bend, Indiana. According to The Observer:

“The Sexuality and Gender Equity Club (SAGE) — formerly the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Club — is a new club at Saint Mary’s that aims to educate others about gender, sex and attraction in addition to race and ethnicity.

“SAGE’s future events will include discussion circles, poetry readings and storytelling. Because of COVID-19, the club will establish an online community and support system this semester in order to ensure there are resources readily available to any student who may need them.”

The University of Notre Dame has been taking steps to become more LGBTQ-inclusive even if not in this instance. The school recently launched an official LGBTQ alumni group. We can hope now that the “unexpectedly valuable” opportunity about which student organizers’ speak will flourish into something even greater.

This post is part of Bondings 2.0’s “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read other stories by clicking here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 28, 2021

4 replies
  1. Robert Takac
    Robert Takac says:

    It’s too bad that they wreck those delicious chicken sandwiches with hatred. The students did absolutely the right thing. The administrators were too weak to address this matter in a quality manner. Maybe we could get some input from an outstanding, devout Catholic like Lindsey Graham. He understands Catholic docility, and his opinion on this whole issue matters a lot. “ Cancel that chicken sandwich with delicious pickles. “. That’s the only cancel culture I know.

  2. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Senator Graham is neither Catholic nor an actual Christian so his remarks are just another example of hopping onto a Fox ‘news’ sound byte . 200 signatories does not have a lot of heft. Notre Dame’s establishment of an LGBT alumni group has little to do with Chik-fil-A. The Chik fil- A presence on campus and the other things listed her do have one thing in common. Money.

  3. Peter Canavan
    Peter Canavan says:

    I wonder what Fr Hesburgh is thinking in Heaven: Fr Jennings: are you brain dead?
    Look at this Corporation’s treatment of workers: just wage? Sick leave? Family leave? Industrial farming to raise chickens that never touch the ground or know fresh air and water? Environmental destruction to produce these chickens?Political donations to the most right wing politicians
    in the country who work against social justice and equality!
    Fr Hesburgh is mad!!!

  4. Mark F Clark
    Mark F Clark says:

    My late older brother graduated from Notre Dame and went on to earn a PhD at Berkeley. He always raved about Fr. Hesburgh’s outspoken sense of social justice and instinct for doing the right thing. What a shame that his heavenly guidance is being cast aside these days in favor of worshipping the power of money. God bless the students who made the “good trouble,” as Congressman Lewis would have described it. Shame on Mr. Alberganti, Fr. Jennings and Sen. Graham.


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