Racism Controversy Swirls for Washington University in St. Louis Students

A Chicago bar denied entrance to six African-American students. They allege discrimination.

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The story of six African-American Washington University in St. Louis students and a Chicago bar that wouldn't let them in has consumed the leafy west St. Louis campus, reports Student Life, the school's student newspaper.

The FBI and several other groups are investigating an incident that occurred earlier this month at the Original Mother's nightclub in the Windy City. The six students, who were traveling with some 200 other seniors from Washington University, were denied entry to the bar on October 17, the report says. One of the students, Regis Murayi, is the treasurer of the Senior Class Council, the group that arranged the trip to Original Mother's. Murayi filed complaints with the Chicago Commission on Human Rights, the Illinois attorney general's office, and the U.S. Department of Justice, the report says.

In his complaints, Murayi says the bar manager would not let him and five other students enter because they were wearing baggy jeans. But, Murayi says, white students wearing comparably baggy jeans entered the bar. Murayi says that he changed jeans with a white student, who was then admitted to the bar.

"It's pretty demoralizing. We had prearranged this agreement" with the nightclub, Murayi tells the Chicago Tribune. "We had spoken to these people prior. We had brought a lot of business to them."

Original Mother's declined interview requests from Student Life but did release a statement on the incident, saying that it "does not discriminate against guests or patrons on the basis of race and would never tolerate discriminatory conduct." The bar's human resources manager, Dan Benson, tells the Chicago Tribune that the students were a security concern because they had gang-affiliated colors on and gang violence has been a problem in the area near the bar.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Benson tells the Tribune.

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