If your Facebook is like mine, it is full of insightful comments about the recent announcement by the Chick-fil-A President regarding the corporate donations to anti-gay causes. While I believe they should be giving their money to literacy groups that teach people to spell correctly instead, let me add another wrinkle to this developing saga that impacts student affairs professionals.
We have a Chick-fil-A in our Student Union on campus. It’s quite popular with our students, and I confess to enjoying an order of waffle fries every now and then. The presence of this store has always been controversial with our LGBTQ students, faculty and staff – and now more so than ever.
Let me make it more complex. I am the highest ranking out LGBTQ administrator at my university. Our LGBTQ students look to me to take leadership around issues of equity and discrimination like these. As Dean of Students, managing issues of bias, equity and discrimination are part of my responsibility, but the challenge is both personal and professional. How far do I take my personal beliefs when they may not fully align with my university’s?
Now, no one at my university has asked me to not do anything, nor do I think anyone will. The value of equity and inclusion is strong here. I also believe that we would have never contracted to have this restaurant on our campus knowing what we know now. The complexity of contracts that our institutions engage in are often beyond the scope of most in student affairs, but is this an opportunity for student affairs to engage campus in a broader discussion about economics, social responsibility and how we hold both at the same time?
This presents a quandary that I highlighted in my Presidential Address at the 2012 ACPA Annual Convention in Louisville. As a senior administrator with aspirations beyond my current position, do I have to shelf key aspects of my identity to support my institution that is now in a difficult place? These are the struggles that those of us from marginalized populations deal with on a daily basis at work.
ACPA is here to help. We will launch a new symposium this February designed to help aspiring SSAO’s navigate the complexities that come with bringing your identity to work. Keep your eyes on your email for more announcements, and I hope you plan to join us in Orlando for this institute.
And from now on, I’m bringing my lunch from home.
Dr. Keith Humphrey
ACPA President, 2012-2013