Whether you like it or not, Carl’s Jr. is coming to MacHall.
After two months of deliberation and uncertainty, Students’ Union vice-president operations and finance Branden Cave announced at a July 5 Students’ Legislative Council that Carl’s Jr. will replace Sweet & Savory in the MacHall food court.
The announcement is controversial. In June, University of Calgary student Clare Hickie drafted an open letter to Cave protesting the possibility of a Carl’s Jr. opening on campus. She specifically called out the burger vendor for their sexist advertising and lack of vegetarian or halal options. In response, U of C student Teng Rong started a counter petition, stating that Carl’s Jr. targeting their advertising towards young men isn’t “inherently sexist.”
To be fair, Carl’s Jr. is pretty sleazy. They announced that they would provide free Thickburger combos to anyone who signed Rong’s petition by July 6. And they freely admit that they cater specifically to “young hungry guys,” featuring advertising laced with scantily clad women paired with glistening burgers. As a woman — and a person, for that matter — I’m not a fan.
Saying Carl’s Jr. isn’t inherently sexist is incredibly misguided. But blaming the SU for the burger vendor’s sexist advertising is also misguided. At the end of the day, this was a financial decision. Carl’s Jr. will make the SU money and that’s why it’s coming to MacHall.
“I support Carl’s Jr. coming to MacHall because having a proven successful business in our building provides both a reliable option for students and stable lease revenue to fund the SU’s programs, services, events, and advocacy,” Cave said following the announcement.
The SU’s financial future is uncertain. With the decision on their injunction hearing with university administration for operation of MacHall postponed to the end of July — and a larger lawsuit over the building’s permanent ownership looming — the SU wants to secure their finances in every way possible.
I’m not a fan of Carl’s Jr. or their business practices. I probably won’t eat there outside of the occasional hankering for a milkshake after a three-hour lecture. But I can’t fault the SU for wanting to pay their bills.
The SU shouldn’t let Carl’s Jr. put up offensive or sexist advertising at their MacHall location — something they’ve already pledged.
But ultimately, this was a sale between two individual tenants. Sweet & Savory wanted to sell, Carl’s Jr. wanted to buy. The SU facilitated that because a sale was financially viable for the SU’s interests. Sweet & Savory wasn’t making money, and the SU thinks Carl’s Jr. will. It’s as simple as that.
If you don’t like Carl’s Jr., don’t eat there — I probably won’t. If you do, go ahead and enjoy those big, juicy Thickburgers and know the SU is making bank.
Melanie Woods, Gauntlet Editorial Board