Ross Levitt and Susan Candiotti, CNN, October 26, 2009
Students from Washington University say they have complained to state and federal agencies that a Chicago, Illinois, nightclub barred six African-American members from their senior class trip celebration while admitting nearly 200 white classmates.
Bar personnel cited dress code violations–specifically baggy jeans–when barring the African-American students, according to Washington University senior class president Fernando Cutz, who was among students admitted to the bar.
A white student and a black student exchanged jeans to see what would happen, and the white student was admitted while his classmate still was kept outside, Cutz said.
Cutz said his group from the St. Louis, Missouri, school filed complaints with the Chicago Human Rights Commission, the Illinois Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Justice and other organizations after the incident on October 17. The school planned to hold a town hall meeting Monday night to discuss the incident and a possible protest, he said.
But a representative of the bar told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday that security concerns, not racism, guided the decision. One day later, a bar representative told the paper the club was taking the issue “very seriously,” conducting an internal investigation and that disciplinary action would be taken if necessary.
Cutz said he was already inside the bar with some 200 other students, none of whom are African-American, when the first group of African-American classmates arrived. He said he learned that the manager of the bar denied entry to the six students, and he said the manager told the students their baggy pants violated the bar’s dress code.
Cutz, who is white, said he confronted the manager.
Roberts approached the same manager who had turned away the African-American students, paid the entry fee and was allowed in, Cutz said.
Students also contacted the Anti-Defamation League and the Chicago Urban League. The two organizations jointly sent a letter to the bar, writing that they “strongly suggest that Mother’s re-examine its dress code, conduct immediate retraining of all employees to avoid any future racial discrimination or appearance thereof, and issue a formal letter of apology to the six students who were denied entry.”