The constant chatter of hyped-up college students, so loud you can barely hear yourself think. Heat permeating the air from the number of people packed into such a small area. You may think I’m describing a night at the Pressbox, but this was NSU’s new Chick-fil-A Express on opening day.
This Chick-fil-A resides in Northwestern State Marketplace, a combined building with a recently relocated bookstore. There were dozens of students outside the building Monday at 9 a.m., impatiently waiting for the giant ribbon to be cut. It was written all over their faces. They didn’t want to hear the speeches from the people that made this happen—they just wanted to eat.
Together, familiar faces from NSU leadership stepped forward for a picture. Director of Auxiliary Services Jennifer Kelly cut the ribbon. The students clapped. And when the doors were opened, they swarmed in like a flood.
“It’s good to finally see all the hard work pay off, you know?” said junior Aaron Murray. “It’s the Lord’s chicken.”
“I’m just happy to see it here, honestly. It gives the students more options,” said junior Chasity Glasspoole. They were both standing in line.
Chick-fil-A’s opening is a personal accomplishment for NSU President Chris Maggio.
“It means a lot to me because it means a lot to the students,” Maggio said. “What makes me happy is we were able to deliver it for our students. We hope they enjoy it. We hope it complements our Café DeMon that’s across the street, the new academic center, the advisors and things we have in the library. We hope it’s just another piece in the puzzle for a brighter and brighter Northwestern State University.”
According to Maggio, this was a completely student-driven effort. When asked what they wanted on campus, “nine out of 10 students” asked for a Chick-fil-A.
“It’s really cool to see the university listen to its students about what we want,” said Student Government Association Jacob Ellis. “I’m super excited because it’s something new that really boosts the student experience, in my opinion.”
Chick-fil-A General Manager Meoshae Ragster estimated there were 800 customers on the first day, though Senior Leader Mariah Fife thought it was closer to 900.
But as excited as many students may be to get their Spicy Chicken Deluxe, not all students are pleased by the decision. Some, citing the chain’s troubling record on LGBTQ+ rights, wish another restaurant had been chosen.
“I feel like it’s really important that the school get more food options but I’m disappointed in the option they chose,” said junior Lance Duhe, who is taking all of his classes online this semester. “They had so many options to pick from and they chose the most hateful fast food place available.”
Another point of contention remains in the form of University Parkway, a highway between the restaurant and campus. There have been concerns about the safety of the store’s location as the students will have to cross the highway to get there.
“I would like to see that people who are crossing the road to go to eat, that they are monitoring traffic and they’re not distracted by cell phones or anything like that,” said Captain Wesley Harrell with the NSU campus police. He noted that the police will be monitoring the area to “make sure everyone’s safe.”