As the roar of the Chick-Fil-A debate turns to a whisper, I find it important to take away some valuable lessons from this situation. As Elon students know, the past month has been full of debate, anger and emotion coming form both sides surrounding the Chick-Fil-A issue. This debate has stemmed from Chick-Fil-A’s extensive donations to anti-gay organizations such as Focus on the Family, a classified hate group. The company’s president also reiterated that he believed in marriage and family but only in the biblical sense, meaning only a bond between a man and a woman. Although Chick-Fil-A is one of many on campus choices and is part of the Elon meal plan, many of its students are offended by its presence. Essentially, our money and support was funding hate groups that our students could potentially be victims of. In the heat of the debate, a Facebook group was created called “Chick-Fil-A appreciation Day,” and another in response, “Anti Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.”
I suppose that some of the people opposing the removal of Chick-Fil-A were basically just concerned about losing their favorite on-campus restaurant, but as educated students, we need to realize this debate goes much deeper than that. I also believe that some student’s motives were more malicious and politically routed. If we could take a lesson from this, it would be that the world is changing, and if you’re not willing to open up our mind you will be left behind. Elon is a small community – we’re only 5,000 people out of 7 billion in the world. There is no room for ignorance in our future and we can’t go back on the progress our country has made. Our constitution offers us many freedoms, one being freedom of speech. But the fact that our university is allowing an organization with these hateful views to profit on our campus just seems wrong. When we leave this Elon bubble we will continue to be exposed to diversities, and we can’t be fearful of the things that are different from us.
We also need to consider what we write on the Internet and remember the thoughts we express in this medium just might follow us for the rest of our lives. I don’t want to sound like your parents or professors, but it’s true. Someday you could be applying for a job and your potential boss, who may happen to be gay or maybe has a gay family member, will look at that Facebook group you commented in. Do you think you’ll get that job? If you ever plan on working in a city in American you need to be prepared for the diversities it offers. Over 500,000 people attended the New York City Gay Pride Day and that’s just a small portion of people. You will have more opportunities and more love in your life if you can open up our mind. So think about the messages you are projecting to the World Wide Web – it’s called that for a reason. Anyone, anywhere in the world can see what you broadcast there. If your words can hurt a small community like Elon, imagine what damage they can do on a larger scale. Regardless of the outcome to the Chick-Fil-A debate, it’s important to learn from these issues and move forward. I hope as a community Elon is able to do this, and this time with more compassion and with an open mind.