Message from the Chancellor on student survey, restaurant choices

Kristensen-Douglas-webThere are so many great things that go on at UNK every day that we begin to take them for granted. If I sent a note talking about these successes you’d likely get an email from me every hour. Unfortunately, I’m sending this message to campus about a topic that has the potential to cast our campus in a bad light.

Let me begin by saying that our student leaders have been diligent in their desire and effort to improve the Nebraskan Student Union—including the potential of adding name brand restaurants, which is a worthwhile endeavor.

Student government conducted a survey to inform, not to decide, which brand name restaurants might be best for UNK. Chick-fil-A received the most votes. The results of that survey concerned a few in our community and a second survey was taken with Raising Cane’s substituted for Chick-fil-A, which also received the most votes. With student interests in mind, UNK can now begin investigating interest and viability of restaurants.

However, it is the taking of the second survey that has gained national attention. Unfortunately, there has been a good deal of misinformation about our process and commentaries and opinions have spiraled out of control. UNK has been subjected to ridicule at the national level by a few outlets that don’t know the facts or circumstances.

We have decided to proceed with investigating the possibility of bringing a name brand restaurant to the student union. This is not a decision based on popularity but rather on balancing the vitality of these name brands to come to campus. Many of the companies will want renovations and some minimum sales volumes.  We must weigh our preferences against the cost of having name brands. For instance, it is possible that attracting a name brand would necessitate increasing room and board rates.

To be clear, I have asked Business and Finance to examine the financial viability of bringing in name brands, including Chick-fil-A, to our campus. No one has been banned or discriminated against. Once those calculations have been determined we would then consider moving forward and making decisions about who, if anyone, is best suited to be added to our food offerings.

What is truly unfair and disappointing is that several of our community members have received nasty, even hateful, and unwarranted emails and calls. Most of the attention has come from people who have never had a thing to do with our campus. I ask for your patience as some take this opportunity to further personal viewpoints without regard to the facts. To the people who are truly concerned, I hope that you will direct comments and inquiries to myself or Kelly Bartling.

Unfortunately, at what they see as opportune times like this, there are those that take cowardly liberty to threaten members of our University community. This cannot be tolerated. UNK values all of our community members and the varied opinions that they hold—and yes, certainly that includes those who disagree with us. However, threats and intimidation have no place on our campus. Thanks for all you do to make UNK a great place to live and work.

Douglas A. Kristensen, J.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Kearney