Chick-fil-A comes to Gannon’s Erie campus this fall

Decision met with uncertainty within the Gannon community

Gannon University will be welcoming Chick-fil-A to campus in the fall of 2021. This new dining option will be located in Waldron Campus Center and will be an addition to the dining options already available, according to Walter Iwanenko, provost and vice president of Student Experience.  

“Chick-fil-A is a great fit for our students and our campus, and we are excited to welcome them to Gannon,” Iwanenko said. “Offering quick, fresh and healthy food options is important for our students, and Chick-fil-A serves that up with a hearty side of hospitality that aligns with Gannon’s dedication to delivering an exceptional, high-quality experience for students and employees.” 

This new Chick-fil-A location will offer both to-go and sit-down options to best fit the needs of the community. Adriana LaCava, a junior sports management and marketing major, said that one of the benefits of putting a Chick-fil-A location on campus is convenience.  

“With such an amazing menu, I’m sure it will become my go-to study meal,” LaCava said.  

University vendor Metz Culinary Management will work closely with Chick-fil-A to maintain day-to-day operations. 

The announcement comes four years after rumors of Chick-fil-A coming to campus were quashed and Metz Manager Peter Mannarelli said he was in the process of having Gannon removed as a licensed Chick-fil-A location. 

Doug Oathout, chief of staff and director of marketing and communications, said, “There were several factors that went into the decision four years ago, just as there are now. Times change and priorities change. We are happy to have this moving forward.” 

Iwanenko said Gannon chose to partner with Chick-fil-A because of its adherence to common core values rooted in care for othersThis includes an accommodating menu to meet the dietary preferences of student-athletes, commuters and global students.  

Katie Sherwin, a sophomore physical therapy major, said that she is happy about Gannon’s decision to partner with Chick-fil-A. 

“Chick-fil-A is my favorite fast food, and I’m super excited to have one on campus,” Sherwin said. “It will also be convenient for me as a student-athlete.” 

Not all students and faculty are on board with the new development, though. 

Rebecca Ropelewski, a dual senior advertising communications and theatre and communication arts major, said she feels the new addition places Gannon’s priorities away from diversity, given Chick-fil-A’s background with funding organizations against LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts. 

“I believe in putting your money where your beliefs lie,” Ropelewski said. “There’s power in your dollar. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am not a supporter of organizations like Chick-fil-A, whose CEOs and people in power blatantly advocate against minority and marginalized people.  

“I don’t think that the new development on campus is a good reflection of who Gannon claims to be, which is a welcoming community to all.” 

The Rev. Shawn Clerkin, co-director of the School of Communication and the Arts, said although he personally does not support Chick-fil-A, he understands there are people on campus who think highly of this decision. 

I believe that the university makes choices it sees as in the students’ best interest and that the decision to bring an independent franchise (with cooperation from Metz) is meant to provide students with healthy options for meals and snacks,” Clerkin said.  

I have personally chosen to not eat at Chick-Fil-A because of their human rights and employee discriminations, particularly related to LGBTQ+ persons. Over my four decades at Gannon, I have been an advocate and friend to many of our LGBTQ+ students and colleagues. Some of our current and alumni/former LGBTQ+ Gannon community members have expressed that they are comfortable with the university’s invitation to Chick-Fil-A; others have expressed disappointment with the decision. 

A university spokesperson said justice, equity, diversity and inclusion issues are critically important to the university and they are aware of the concerns Chick-fil-A has faced. 

The spokesperson added that the university has raised these topics in conversation with Chick-fil-A, and has become aware of the company’s refocused philanthropic efforts. 

The spokesperson also said that the university has reached out and made efforts to meet with various groups to discuss how the university can support them and listen and respond to their concerns, hopes and needs going forward.  

If students or employees have questions, concerns or would like to discuss this, they can share their thoughts with the university via online submission at the following link or contact any of the President’s Leadership Team members. 



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