“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.

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