Fast-food restaurant Chick-fil-A will open a new location on Howard’s campus during the upcoming fall semester, according to an emailed statement from the restaurant. The news prompted mixed reactions from students, who pointed to historical controversy surrounding the company.
Aisha Brown, general manager of the university’s food service provider Sodexo, revealed that the Chick-fil-A location will not be in Punch Out, Howard’s food court on the lower level of Armour J. Blackburn University Center.
However, the comment contradicts the information on the Chick-fil-A website, which lists Blackburn’s address as the restaurant’s future location. Brown did not respond with further commentary despite The Hilltop’s effort to follow up for clarity on location details.
According to Brown, students will be able to use their dining dollars and Bison Bucks, which are funds available for students, staff and faculty via the Bison One Card.
Chick-fil-A is known for its menu options which includes chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. The restaurant also serves wraps, salads, cookies and milkshakes. Customers can choose between fried or grilled chicken. According to Chick-fil-A, the most popular entrées in 2022 were the Original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich and the Chick-fil-A nuggets. An Original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich is $5.75 and an eight-count of Chick-fil-A nuggets is $5.85.
Some students are glad to have an additional dining option around campus, like Morgan Pratt. The sophomore marketing major from New York, said that she looks forward to a Chick-fil-A restaurant on Howard’s campus.
“I’m surprised that there isn’t one already here, to be honest,” Pratt said. “It’ll be a lot more convenient and refreshing to have more food options on campus.”
Another student, Sheamari Whitaker, a sophomore political science major from Pennsylvania, also appreciates the prospect of having a wider variety of places to eat on campus.
“I love the fact that we are having the opportunity to have new food options on campus,” she said. “I think having Chick-fil-A on campus will be super dope, especially given the fact that the food is super delicious.”
Irena Silcott-Nanton, a junior mechanical engineering major from Texas, said she is excited about the new location. “It’s nice to have a choice that I’m familiar with,” she said.
While some students are eagerly anticipating the grand opening this fall, some are more skeptical about inviting the restaurant to campus.
According to USA Today, the corporation consistently donated to anti-LGBTQ+ groups. Additionally, CEO Dan Cathy made controversial comments opposing same-sex marriage. After receiving public backlash, Chick-fil-A stopped donating to some of the groups promoting anti-LGBTQ+ efforts in 2012. Seven years later, in 2019, the corporation announced a shift in focus regarding their charity donations, which ended their remaining partnerships with all anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
For some students like Mikhyah Austin, the restaurant’s past has left a lasting impression. Austin, a senior biology major from Illinois, believes the addition of a Chick-fil-A is unnecessary.
“Personally,” she said, “I don’t think we should be giving our business to an establishment like Chick-fil-A. They have openly supported and donated money to conversion camps. Also, as an HBCU, I feel that we should always try to support people that support us–companies that give back to the community and Black-owned businesses. Chick-fil-A is a corporation that definitely doesn’t need our support.”
Whitaker recognized the controversial background the restaurant has, but provided a different perspective. “Growing up, I didn’t understand the history or beliefs that Chick-fil-A stood for. As I started educating myself, I didn’t agree with some of the terminology and stances that Chick-fil-A would present, especially on social media,” Whitaker said. “I think that now that we have the opportunity to have it on campus, it will allow us to work with Chick-fil-A in regards to having better representation and advocacy for all communities, not just some.”
Pratt expressed that she doesn’t agree with Chick-fil-A’s views but believes that more people should be aware of them. “Their history is definitely something that bothers me because the things they have supported and funded go against my morals and ethics, and I overall think it’s wrong,” she said. “I also feel like everyone just overlooks it because it’s a good food place, which, if people do that it’s their choice and that’s fine, but it’s something I think should be talked about a lot more.”
The Howard Chick-fil-A location will be the fourth university location in D.C., and one of two new locations to be added to a HBCU campus in the city. Georgetown University and Catholic University have a Chick-fil-A close to their campuses, and the University of the District of Columbia, the other District HBCU, is also set to have a new location on its campus soon, the website says.
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee