Controversial Plan for CSUN Carl’s Jr. Favored in Survey

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A campus survey shows that students, administrators and faculty at Cal State Northridge overwhelmingly favor fast-food franchises on campus but their first choice is Carl’s Jr., a restaurant chain bitterly opposed by the school’s feminist groups and others.

The CSUN Foundation, which runs many of the campus food concessions, dropped a plan to purchase a Carl’s Jr. franchise a year ago after some students and faculty members objected to the conservative political views of the chain’s founder, Carl Karcher.

But the plan to install fast-food outlets at CSUN was revived this year because of the success of such franchises on other college campuses and the foundation’s need to better compete with off-campus eateries, said Bill Lloyd, foundation projects manager.


“We’re interested in keeping people and dollars on campus,” he said.

A campus feminist leader said the fight against Carl’s Jr. would continue.

The foundation, a nonprofit, self-financed corporation, was organized in 1958 to provide services to the university for which it would be unlikely to receive state funds. In addition to food services, the foundation operates the bookstore and vending machines.

Last year, Carl’s Jr. opponents also questioned the general concept of having independent franchises on a college campus. They challenged the results of a marketing survey, also favoring Carl’s Jr., which was conducted by a CSUN student. The opponents said the survey of only 100 students was misleading.

The current survey of 3,435 people was undertaken to “really get the pulse of the campus,” Lloyd said. “We feel more confident now that this is what students want.”

The survey was conducted by passing out questionnaires at random to individuals standing in line at the campus bookstore at the beginning of the spring semester. Gina Segura, a CSUN marketing graduate who directed the survey, said the high number of respondents “ensures a low margin of error--less than 3%.”

Of those polled, 79.3% said they wanted fast-food franchises on campus. Asked which fast-food restaurant they eat in most often, 23.8% said Carl’s Jr.

McDonald’s was second with 18.6%, and Taco Bell third with 12.4%.

Asked which sandwich franchise they are most interested in seeing on campus, Carl’s Jr. was the first choice of 24.8% of the respondents. Subway and McDonald’s followed with slightly less than 17% each.


Of so-called specialty fast-food outlets, El Pollo Loco was the first choice of 30%, and Taco Bell was favored by 23%. Among confection franchises, the Penguin’s yogurt chain was the respondents’ first choice, at 25.8%, followed by Baskin-Robbins, 19.9%.

The survey also asked if respondents favored selling cigarettes in vending machines on campus. More than 50% were opposed, and only 12.5% favored cigarette machines. More than 31% did not care.

Lloyd said the foundation’s board, which is headed by college President James Cleary, will discuss the survey results at its meeting Thursday.

Faith Manon Haaz, director of the campus Women’s Center, said she will continue to oppose the Carl’s Jr. franchise, mainly because of Karcher’s financial support of the anti-abortion movement.

“We’re going to fight this,” she said, adding that she would support a Subway or McDonald’s franchise.

“If there’s a big issue over Carl’s, we may back off,” Lloyd said. He pointed out, however, that Carl’s Jr. franchises had been installed on other Southern California college campuses, including USC and Cal State Fullerton, without incident.


“Our goal is really to have more than one franchise,” Lloyd said.

Tentative plans call for the installation of a food court in conjunction with an expansion of the bookstore, a $5-million project, Lloyd said. “There could be an ice cream place, a salad bar, sandwich deli, Mexican food area. We hope to open next spring.”