Students, Club Reach Agreement In Race Dispute

The Original Mother's was made famous in a 1986 movie i i

The Original Mother's was made famous in the 1986 movie About Last Night, starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore and Jim Belushi. David Schaper/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Schaper/NPR
The Original Mother's was made famous in a 1986 movie

The Original Mother's was made famous in the 1986 movie About Last Night, starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore and Jim Belushi.

David Schaper/NPR

The owners of a popular Chicago nightclub, The Original Mother's, confirmed that they have reached a settlement with six black college students who claimed they were denied entry to the club because of their race.

A representative of Lodge Management Group, which owns Mother's and a number of other nightclubs in Chicago, confirmed the resolution to the dispute over the nightclub's dress code late Wednesday.

The students were part of a senior class trip from Washington University in St. Louis that had prearranged and prepaid for a party at Mother's on Saturday night, Oct. 17.

The students said they were told they were in violation of the bar's dress code, which prohibits baggy jeans, and were denied entry.

Meanwhile, they said, white customers wearing baggy jeans were allowed in. They said they offered to change clothes, but the manager said they still wouldn't be allowed in. One of the students even traded pants with a white student, who was then allowed in wearing the same jeans that previously had been called "too baggy."

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Lodge Management has not yet released details of the settlement, but the students had a news conference at Washington University late Wednesday afternoon. They said Mother's management had agreed to both publicly and privately apologize to the students and to provide diversity training to managers at all of its clubs.

The students said the company also agreed to participate in an anti-discrimination rally in Chicago next month and to help host four fundraisers for anti-discrimination programs or charities of the students' choice. The students agreed not to file a lawsuit and not to seek money from the nightclub.

"Discrimination and racial profiling still happen, and we need to have a larger dialogue about it," said Fernando Cutz, 21, a senior at Washington University and the student council president.

Student Council Treasurer Regis Murayi, 21, a senior who helped organize the trip, was one of the students denied entry to the bar. He said similar incidents have happened to him before, as dress codes like the one at Mother's are increasingly common around the country.

"I think they're created as a guise for establishments to selectively choose who they allow into the establishment," he said.

Brad Grayson, a lawyer representing the bar, said after the news conference that the bar does not believe it discriminated against the students as it enforced its dress code policy.

"There was no intention to admit white kids with baggy jeans and exclude black kids with baggy jeans," he said.

But Grayson said the business will work with the students on efforts to combat discrimination and will apologize because they had a bad experience at Mother's.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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