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USD addresses Chick-fil-A future student center expansion location

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota will move forward with the choice of Chick-fil-A as one of the food vendors in the expanded Muenster Student Center that is scheduled to open in 2014, USD President James Abbott said Tuesday.

“We are opposed to discrimination on this campus. We understand that people feel aggrieved by the views of Chick-fil-A’s owner, and we are sympathetic to those on campus who objected,” Abbott said.

“But we are advised by counsel that the University cannot discriminate against a vendor because of protected speech or the religious views of the company owners,” he said, after discussing the issue with the University’s Executive Committee.

Chick-fil-A, along with Qdoba and Einstein Bros. Bagels were chosen to occupy the food court in the expanded student center. The restaurants were among the students’ top choices on a 2011 survey of popular eateries.

Chick-fil-A became controversial earlier this year after company owner Dan Cathy made public statements supporting what he called “traditional marriage,” and his foundation donated to groups opposing gay marriage.

The University was urged to reject Chick-fil-A out of respect for gay, lesbian and transgender people during a Sept. 25 forum on campus attended by about 50 people. However, others at the forum said those who disagree with Chick-fil-A have the option of boycotting the restaurant once it opens on campus.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News