Kansas First District Congressman Dr. Tim Huelskamp released a letter that he sent to University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little regarding the Chik-Fil-A on the University's main campus in Lawrence. As reported by the Lawrence Journal-World, petitions are circulating to remove and keep Chik-Fil-A on campus. In the letter, Dr. Huelskamp, reminded the University that it has a commitment to non-discrimination.
The full text of the letter can be found below:
August 7, 2012
University of Kansas
230 Strong Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045-7518
Dear Chancellor Gray-Little,
It is my understanding that a petition is being circulated to remove Chik-Fil-A from the University of Kansas campus. I also understand that there is a petition to keep Chik-Fil-A at the University of Kansas.
It is clearly not the purview of any government officials or institutions to discriminate against those who may hold differing political or religious views. To do so is to violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Additionally, at its core, an institution of higher learning is supposed to be a place for open debate and the free flow of ideas. Kicking out a private business that is operating legally on the grounds that its leader holds a particular set of religious and political beliefs different from yours or any other official would violate the University's commitment to non-discrimination. The University of Kansas has a proud tradition of allowing people of differing views to express those views; to discriminate and undo that tradition would be a travesty.
While of course the University of Kansas can decide with which entities it enters into contracts, it is my sincerest hope that KU will not discriminate against Chik-Fil-A and renege on the terms of the contract. Furthermore, when the time comes to renew the contract in 2014, the University should not discriminate by taking a side in any political debate surrounding the comments made by Chik-Fil-A President Dan Cathy -- especially because it was not that long ago that President Obama offered similar sentiments about marriage. All that matters is that Mr. Cathy runs a business that operates within the confines of the law.
It is a slippery slope to begin implementing litmus tests on the private businesses that contract with KU. It would be a dangerous precedent to make a business leader's political or religious beliefs a criterion for contracts with the University. Will suddenly certain books be banned from the University's libraries or bookstores if the authors' views run counter to what Administrators preach? Will donors be turned away if they hold certain beliefs? Will student religious groups be silenced?
For the sake of the First Amendment, I hope not. For the sake of religious liberty, I hope not. And for the sake of the academic freedom, I hope not. I look forward to your response.
Congressman Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
First District of Kansas