The Subway “did they/didn’t they discriminate against homeschoolers” matter is basically resolved. They issued a statement, a compromise of sorts, promising to be more sensitive and include homeschoolers in future promotions. So, enjoy your sandwiches, if you choose. 🙂
An ongoing issue remains debatable…was the outcry against Subway justified? Was this really discrimination, or are homeschoolers a bunch of whiny crybabies who demand to get their way?
Dawn left a comment on my blog, disagreeing with my view. She states her opinion reasonably, without the less mature name calling some have stooped to on both sides, and I think her questions are worth considering and discussing.
Do a search for contests that are only open to homeschoolers. I’m sure you’ll find quite a few. If the Subway apology seems wishy-washy, I don’t blame them. they were well within their rights to limit the contest as they did.
This brief comment packs in a number of points which I’ve thought over this morning. Is this true? Does she make valid points? Let’s consider them one by one.
1. Do a search for contests that are only open to homeschoolers. Okay, I did that. I searched, I really did. I didn’t find any. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but Dawn believes “quite a few” abound. I’m curious now, so if anyone knows of some, please point me in the right direction.
In the past, the Home School Legal Defense Association hosted writing contests for homeschoolers. I also remember once an amateur film competition hosted by a homeschool group run just for homeschoolers. So does that make us hypocrites? It seems to be what Dawn is implying (and what many other blogs stated outright).
I don’t think so. The HSLDA is a special interest group. They exist for the sole purpose of promoting homeschooling. Their agenda is open and clear. One would expect them to host homeschool only events. In the same vein, I recently saw a contest hosted an organization of elementary school principals hosting a writing contest for public school elementary students. I didn’t even bat an eye. Special interest group…special interest in promoting a special area. Agenda clear. It’s the same reasoning that leads us to accept scholarships for nursing students from medical societies, activities for MSU students hosted by MSU, events for Catholic students hosted by Catholic churches. They’re special interest groups.
Subway is NOT a special interest group. Neither is Scholastic, a sponsor of the contest in question. Both are companies which sell goods and services to (and receive a tidy profit from) homeschoolers just like any other customer. So when they pointedly exclude homeschoolers, eyebrows are raised. Feelings are rankled. They now give the appearance of having a hidden agenda…a surprise interest. We feel misled. Wait a minute…I’ve been supporting this company and suddenly I find out they aren’t what I thought they were?
Second point, when a special interest group (or even more general group) hosts a contest to promote a special interest, they generally target that special area/group. For example, a civic group might offer a scholarship to nursing majors believing that there’s a shortage of nurses in the area. Journalist majors don’t get upset because this is pointed at them. If that civic group offered a scholarship to every field of study EXCEPT journalism, then now journalist majors feel excluded. They’ve been singled out. It looks like that civic group is just picking on them. What Subway did was offer a contest to everyone EXCEPT homeschoolers. We were the only group excluded. No rational reason exists for picking out one group of students to exclude. It gives the appearance that Subway cares about all kids’ health and fitness except homeschoolers. Tacky.
2. If the Subway apology seems wishy-washy, I don’t blame them. Fair enough. You don’t blame them. I do. I believe words mean things. The letter was dishonest, and since they wrote it, I blame them. Why couldn’t they just be straightforward? They never intended to exclude homeschoolers? Does anyone believe that happened accidentally? The person designing the website stumbled, splayed her hands across the keyboards, and the words “No home schools will be accepted” were randomly typed in? Uh-huh.
It was a deliberate exclusion, and this statement was a semantic shuffle to apologize without admitting having done anything to apologize for. If they did it deliberately, but in ignorance not knowing that homeschoolers have the same problem budgeting for group athletics that public schools have or that homeschoolers would be upset or that homeschoolers number in the millions, why not just admit that? I respect honesty.
The statement was wishy-washy. I’m not fooled by it. But…whatever. It’s what they offered, and I’m glad that they offered that much. On reflection, I did not express my gratitude graciously. Thank you, Subway, for meeting us halfway.
3. They were well within their rights to limit the contest as they did. On this point, Dawn and I agree completely. Subway has the right to limit their own contests. No laws have been broken. I haven’t heard anyone insinuate the Subway did anything illegal.
However…was Subway right to limit the contest? Were they wise? Companies generally use promotions to benefit themselves…after all, they only exist so long as they make a profit. They’re trying to make a living. By reaching out to give back to the community (in this case, the national community), it builds goodwill. Subway markets its image as a healthy restaurant, and as part of that image, it seeks to promote healthy lifestyles among children. That’s admirable. It makes me think, “What a generous and caring company. I like them. Let’s go eat a sandwich for lunch!”
Decisions like that alienate customers. Now I’m thinking, “Oh, they don’t think my kids are as worthy as someone else’s kids? Well, I don’t think their sandwiches are as good as Quizno’s.” Not a wise marketing choice. Not good public relations. Not even very nice.
Subway was within their rights to limit the contests. They were also foolish and misinformed. The same Constitution that gives Subway the right to control their own private property (their money, their marketing resources, their advertising plans) gives homeschoolers the right to notice that they’ve been excluded, to be unhappy about it, to share that information with other homeschoolers, to write letters of complaint, and to choose to eat tacos instead of subs. Their rights…our rights…we’ve all exercised our Constitutional rights. Subway is now exercising its wisdom and business sense in deciding not to arbitrarily exclude chunks of its customer base.
I welcome reasoned comments and feedback. No whiny crybabies or name-calling need participate here.