Chick-Fil-A, Technology and Politics: Student Press Analysis

Glenn Ricketts

1. The controversy over the fast food chain Chick-Fil-A’s evangelical Christian owners and their views on marriage received some ink over the past week, as an increasing number of undergraduate newspapers continue to publish over the summer months.  A columnist writing in the Oklahoma Daily explains why, even though the food is pretty good, he won’t be eating there anymore.  Similarly, the editor of the UT/Knoxville Daily Beacon notes that, although he was recently very hungry one morning, he decided not to stop at the handy local Chick-Fil-A, and kept on driving.  Another activist interviewed in the Pitt News thinks it’s important that the chain’s customers know that their patronage helps to support ant-gay causes. On a contrasting note, a writer for the USC Daily Gamecock suggests that you shouldn’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because the food is just plain bad for you, but commenters take issue.  From a somewhat different angle, a guest columnist and Christian evangelical suggests to readers of the U of Georgia’s Red and Black that open support for Chick-Fil-A by his coreligionists may be ill-advised, since it could impede their efforts at evangelizing. Meanwhile, the Daily Texan offers a pictorial comment on the controversy, while on a related issue, two former Eagle Scouts deplored the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to exclude openly gay members, here and here

2. The Penn State scandal’s aftermath continued to generate commentary, and two writers for the Daily Illini presented opposing views of the sanctions imposed by the NCAA.  For one, the NCAA’s decision represented the best outcome the circumstances warranted.  His colleague, however, argues that the measures missed the mark by a mile, and won’t change what really needs changing.  The NCAA’s punishment of PSU was entirely appropriate as the editors of the Daily Pennsylvanian saw it, and the Michigan Daily noted that the U of M was not interested in accepting any transfers from its chastened gridiron rival in Pennsylvania.  And at the Daily Texan, the editors noted that, as another big football school, UT/Austin should carefully consider the consequences when an athletic program morphs into a cult. 

3.  An increasing number of schools are implementing campus-wide smoking bans, as the Ohio University Post reports will be considered there on recommendation by the school’s board of directors.  A similar ban is already on the table at neighboring Ohio State, and a news item in The Lantern indicates that the policy faces stiff resistance from students.  At the University of Maryland, where a smoking ban has been approved and will become effective soon, the editors of the Diamondback conclude that it is misconceived and unenforceable.  And in the Oklahoma Daily, a self-professed nicotine addict says there’s no way he won’t be defying the ban, as his fellow puffers will likewise do. In The Dartmouth, meanwhile a summer columnist argues that his school’s new drinking regulations are also bound to flop. In any case, the editors of the DePaulia in Chicago suggest that the fixation with smoking is misplaced: obesity is a much more serious health issue, among college students and the nation overall. 

4. Sustainability and the environment: A writer for the Iowa State Daily thinks it’s really great that concern for sustainable energy has seemingly gone global, and he recommends pursuing “green energy” alternatives to fossil fuels as the optimal starting point toward realization of that goal. For a colleague at the MSU State News, the best place to start is locally, as in his own school’s plan to end dependency on coal.  A staffer for The Dartmouth, on the other hand, makes the case for simultaneously going green and drilling for more oil.  They’re not at all incompatible, he thinks.  A far more ominous opinion comes from an op ed writer at the UNLV Rebel Yell: he thinks that it’s probably already too late to avert an environmental catastrophe, and that remarkably few people seem to know or care. 

5. The omnipresence of “social media” seems to be on the minds of those who use them.  One columnist for the Central Michigan University Life seems troubled by her attachment to the new communications technology, and also acknowledges how hard it would be to put them down. Another at the U of Missouri, Columbia Maneater, wonders if people realize how much of their privacy they’re surrendering when they blithely place so much personal information on Facebook or Twitter. It’s even more dire in the view of a columnist at the Oklahoma Daily, who thinks that smartphone text messaging is turning us into asocial, inarticulate robots.  But not everyone is so negative, and another writer at the Minnesota Daily argues that technology itself is neutral, and its effects will depend on what you decide to make of it. Likewise a colleague at the OSU Lantern, who thinks that the ubiquitous gadgets can be very useful if you’re looking for a job. 

6. Miscellaneous Politics: Election years bring all sorts of people into the limelight, some of whom don’t realize that they’ve stayed there far too long.  A political analyst for the Auburn Plainsman can’t believe that the presidential “birthers” are still at it, and wishes they’d take a hike. But at the KSU Collegian, a summer staffer sees Massachusetts GOP Senator Scott Brown as a genuine political moderate, and wishes there were more like him, while a colleague at the Daily Texan endorses the type of Democrat he’d like to see elected to the Senate.  Meanwhile, a one-time editor of the Columbia Spectator returns to correct the misuse of one of his columns, which he contends was used by a present-day blogger to smear President Obama.  And if you want to fix the economy, a staff writer for The Dartmouth suggests that present-day politicians all around could learn a few things form President Calvin Coolidge. 

7. Tragic as the recent mass shootings in a Colorado theater were, an op ed writer for the Iowa State Daily is dismayed by the opportunistic lawsuits already being filed against the management by patrons who suffered no injuries.  At the Daily Nebraskan, the editors believe that the frenzied media coverage surrounding the incident focused excessively on the accused shooter.  Finally, a columnist for the Oklahoma Daily argues that the enactment of stricter gun laws, now so widely demanded, would have no effect on anyone determined to obtain weapons and commit crimes. 

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