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Papa John's Pizza Kicked Off NKU Campus

This story has been updated to include the full letter from the NKU president.

Papa John's won't be serving pizza on Northern Kentucky University's campus when students return to Highland Heights next month.

New President Ashish Vaidya sent a letter to the campus community denouncing the recent comments made by the pizza chain's founder, John Schnatter.

“Recent remarks made by the founder of the pizza chain Papa John’s are offensive, hurtful and unacceptable and do not reflect the core values of NKU,” said in the emailed letter, as first reported by The Northerner.

Schnatter was ousted as chairman of the Papa John's board of directors following a report by Forbes that he used the racist n-word in a phone call with a marketing firm:

On the May call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s,” Schnatter said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.

In recent days, Colonel Sanders' family defended the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder from Schnatter's assertion that he was racist.

On Sunday, the Papa John's board voted to prevent Schnatter from retaking control of the company.

Vaidya stated that Papa John's will be replaced by an in-house service operated by Chartwells, which manages food service on campus. All current employees will keep their jobs. Input will be taken from the community before a permanent franchise is decided, Vaidya said.

The full letter from Vaidya follows:

Dear Campus Community:

Northern Kentucky University has a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion that is embedded in all facets of our campus. It is a defining characteristic that makes me proud to serve as president of this university whose faculty and staff are focused on helping our students lead meaningful lives and successful careers. We believe our students, faculty and staff benefit from a rich environment of thought and experience that is gained by welcoming people from all backgrounds and perspectives. 

Recent remarks made by the founder of the pizza chain Papa John’s are offensive, hurtful and unacceptable and do not reflect the core values of NKU. Because of this, we have asked our external food services partner, Chartwells, to remove the franchise from our campus. Our commitment to diversity and inclusivity is a fundamental part of what makes NKU great, and we expect all of our business associations to align with these values. I know that Chartwells Higher Education takes pride in creating a campus dining program that embraces diversity, inclusion and respect and is committed to working with partners who share these same values.  Chartwells will replace the current franchise with an in-house service that will serve a pizza-based menu in time for the start of the fall semester. All current employees are Chartwell's employees and will retain their jobs. During the fall, we will seek campus input before determining a permanent franchise for the Student Union. 

We are proud of what NKU stands for and we will continue to foster an environment where all are given an opportunity to learn and thrive. 

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Ashish K. Vaidya


-Staff report

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