A dean at Rider University in New Jersey is resigning from her position over the school’s decision to reject students’ demands to bring Chick-fil-A to campus.
Cynthia Newman, dean of the College of Business Administration, said the school’s opposition to Chick-fil-A because of its “perceived” discrimination towards the LGBTQ community conflicts with her values as a Christian.
“I am not willing to compromise my faith and Christian values and I will not be viewed as being in any way complicit when an affront is made to those values,” Ms. Newman said in her resignation announcement, Campus Reform reported Monday.
Last year, administrators sent out a survey asking students which restaurant they would like to see on campus. After Chick-fil-A became the clear winner, the school decided to change course in the name of “inclusion for all people.”
Chick-fil-A’s “corporate values have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider,” the university told students in a Nov. 1 email explaining the decision to reject the survey results.
“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement because I’m a very committed Christian,” Ms. Newman told Campus Reform. “Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose statement is to glorify God, to be faithful stewards of all that’s entrusted to them and have a positive influence on everyone who comes into contact with them. And I would say that mirrors my personal beliefs perfectly.”
Ms. Newman explained in a February letter to her faculty that she’d resign from her role as dean, effective Aug. 31, but will continue as a professor starting in September.
Kristine Brown, the university’s associate vice president of marketing and communications, thanked Ms. Newman “for her many contributions” in her role as dean.
“While we respect Dr. Newman’s personal decision, we maintain that the decision about choosing an on-campus restaurant franchise was in no way a judgment on religious values,” Ms. Brown said Tuesday, NJ.com reported. “Rather, our intention was to foster a sense of respect and belonging of all members of the campus community, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.”
Chick-Fil-A came under fire in 2012 after CEO Dan Cathy, a conservative Christian, revealed his disapproval of gay marriage. His comments and Chick-fil-A’s history of donating to socially conservative organizations sparked nationwide calls for a boycott, which only seemed to bolster the company’s success. The chicken chain is on track to become the third-largest fast-food chain in the U.S. and was named the nation’s favorite fast-food restaurant for the third year in a row in last year’s American Customer Satisfaction Index’s Restaurant Report.
After Rider’s decision in November, Chick-fil-A issued a statement saying it had “no policy of discrimination against any group.”
“We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda,” the company said. “More than 120,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand.”