Cynthia Newman, dean of the College of Business Administration at Rider University, has resigned after the college refused to allow a Chick-fil-A on campus.
Newman’s resignation was first announced in an interview to Campus Reform, a conservative news site that claims to be an education watchdog, published on Monday (March 4) and confirmed in a statement to the Associated Press.
The controversy over Chick-fil-A started in November, when students at Rider University were asked which restaurant they wanted on campus, and Chick-fil-A was the poll’s top choice.
“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement because I am a very committed Christian.”
— Rider University dean, Cynthia Newman
However, in an open letter to students, the university’s president and vice-president said that Chick-fil-A had been removed from the list of options for the new campus restaurant because of its poor record on LGBT+ issues.
“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement because I am a very committed Christian,” Newman told Campus Reform, adding: “I really felt it very personally.”
Newman, who informed the faculty of her decision to resign in February, continued: “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.”
Rider university contested Chick-fil-A over anti-LGBT views
Chick-fil-A has long been known for its anti-LGBT views.
In 2012, it emerged that the Baptist family that owns the company had donated millions to anti-LGBT groups and made statements opposing marriage equality. The company has faced boycotts and protests as a result of their support for anti-LGBT causes.
In November, a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A said: “We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda.”
Newman will continue serving as a member of the Rider University faculty.
“We’re pleased that (Newman) will remain as a member of the faculty and also continue to play a role on the provost’s leadership team as a special assistant to the provost,” university spokeswoman Kristine A. Brown told local news outler NJBIZ via email on Wednesday (March 6).
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The statement continued: “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. 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+.”
LGBT+ student at Rider University responds to Cynthia Newman’s remarks on Chick-fil-A
Newman’s statements prompted a Rider University student to issue an open letter in response. Charley Furey, who identifies as bisexual, wrote in the letter published on Facebook on Monday that he took offence in her remarks.
“With all due respect, you need to take a seat. You are a white Christian, so unpersecuted against that they often take giving basic human rights and decency to other groups as oppression against them (a generalization, I concede, but it is widespread). A punch in the gut? Really?” the student wrote, before quoting statistic on harassment and violence against the LGBT+ community.
“You don’t truly know what it’s like to feel that punch in your gut, to feel hated, to feel persecuted against,” Furey added, concluding: “You can play the martyr, or you can help the LGBT+ community by examining how your words actions [sic] affect them. I hope you choose the latter.”