Patrons who visit two Fort Worth locations near the university wearing TCU attire will be given a free original chicken sandwich or an eight pack of nuggets.
The event is part of TCU Athletics Big 12 Days of Summer series and drew some debate on the athletics department’s Facebook page.
Alumnus Marlon Figueroa, who is gay, said the event shouldn’t have occurred because it is inappropriate during the recent controversy with the chicken chain over gay marriage and President Dan Cathy’s anti-gay comments. He said he wants TCU to end its relationship with Chick-fil-A and not partner with the company in the future.
“I think that TCU represents a lot of people and by partnering with TCU it’s alienating a lot of people,” he said. “Our values to be inclusive are not in line with Chick-fil-A.”
Aaron Hampton, president of TCU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, told Instant Tea that the partnership sent the wrong message to students.
“It’s not just about local businesses partnering with TCU, it’s about TCU working with an organization that works to deny equal rights to citizens,” he said. “So by working with them it sends a message to TCU students that while TCU is supposedly ‘open,’ they appeal to the masses and do not stand firm in their assertion that the campus is a safe place to discuss ideas and not have some ideas shoved down people’s throats.”
TCU’s Director of Communications Lisa Albert told Instant Tea in an email that the event was to promote the university’s entry into the Big 12 Conference.
“TCU is promoting its entrance into the Big 12 through a variety of events planned months ago,” she wrote. “The University does not support political or personal statements associated with any of our event hosts.”
TCU, which is affiliated with but not governed by the Disciples of Christ church, has been progressive recently and made strides with LGBT students, said the Rev. Steve Sprinkle, an openly gay professor at Brite Divinity School on TCU’s campus.
Sprinkle said the event comes at an interesting time when Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced it would attend the company’s appreciation day Aug. 1. LGBT advocates have planned kiss-ins across the country for Aug. 3. He said the company is partnering with institutions that would help it sell its products.
He added that TCU can choose what companies to partner with for events and that the event could’ve been planned before the controversy.
Chick-fil-A will also be giving away products Saturday at Texas Rangers ballpark. Spokesman John Blake said the company is a corporate sponsor of the Rangers and the possibility of disassociating from them “hasn’t been addressed.”
The Texas Rangers were considering filming an “It Gets Better” video last year but Blake said nothing has been planned.
“We’ve talked about doing something that would target bullying but it’s not been one yet,” he said.