EDMOND — The Chick-fil-A location in the University of Central Oklahoma's student union is one of the university's more popular campus dining options.
Now, a group of UCO students wants to see it gone.
Members of the UCO Skeptics and the Student Alliance for Equality stood outside the food court in UCO's Nigh University Center on Wednesday and Thursday collecting signatures on a petition to have the restaurant removed from campus.
UCO student Kyle Brower said the two student groups oppose the restaurant's presence on campus because of the company's well-publicized stance on gay rights.
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy drew a firestorm of criticism and boycotts from pro-gay rights groups earlier this year when he voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage. Cathy's remarks led to an unofficial Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, in which supporters flocked to the restaurant in droves.
The groups began planning the demonstration before the company's social stance came to national attention, Brower said. Long before Cathy's remarks, the company gave money to anti-gay marriage groups like the Family Research Council.
Most of the passers-by have been familiar with the Chick-fil-A controversy, Brower said, and reaction has been mixed. About 350 people had signed the petition by noon Thursday, but Brower said others have said they saw the matter as a First Amendment issue.
But Brower said he doesn't oppose Cathy's right to voice his opinions and give his money to whatever charities he chooses. He simply doesn't think the restaurant is a good fit for UCO.
“We don't think the university should help support discrimination,” Brower said.
UCO spokesman Charlie Johnson said university officials are aware of the petition and supported the students' right to express themselves.
“The university is a marketplace of ideas,” he said. “We welcome the exchange of those ideas in a civil and respectful manner.”
UCO doesn't have a direct relationship with Chick-fil-A, Johnson said. The university contracts with Chartwells, a campus dining vendor, to bring food options to the university. Contracts for all the restaurants on campus are handled through Chartwells, he said.
Chick-fil-A generally has robust sales on campus, Johnson said. The location has been on campus since the mid-1990s, he said, and it's one of the more popular dining options.
“Chick-fil-A is what our students want,” he said.