Live blogging the Mother’s Bar incident town hall
Correction Appended Below
The Association of Black Studentss, Connect4 and the Senior Class Council are hosting a town hall-style forum tonight to address students’ reactions to the alleged discrimination that took place at the Original Mothers Bar during the senior class trip to Chicago two weeks ago. The forum is meant as an opportunity for the students involved to tell their story and to deal with some of the larger issues at play in the controversy. Student Life will be live blogging from the forum in LabSci 300.
10:02 p.m. | Signing Off: The forum just wrapped up and students are slowly filing out, though a significant number are hanging around to continue the discussion. This concludes our live coverage of the town hall, but check StudLife.com later tonight for full coverage of the forum.
9:55 p.m. | Thanking Fernando: Iboro Umana makes a point of thanking Senior Class Council President Fernando Cutz for his hard work and Cutz receives a standing ovation.
9:52 p.m. | Closing Words: Cutz says that the Senior Class Council will be meeting tonight to discuss the recommendations from the forum and to formulate their “demands to Mother’s. On Wednesday, Cutz says that Student Union Senate will be taking up this issue. Iboro Umana takes the microphone back to wrap up with a message to students: “We have so much unlimited potential,” said Umana. “If you see something going on, I challenge you to take part in it.”
9:45 p.m. | Be Creative: “We need to demand that they write an anti-discrimination policy, and they need to post it outside of their bar,” and they need to be accountable to that policy said senior Nikki Spencer. She went on to say that the University has an opportunity to create tools for people who are not students to take advantage of and to make Mother’s an innovator in solving the problem.
9:41 p.m. | What one who was discriminated against wants: Senior Chuka Chike-Obi said that “I’m very happy with the amount of support we’ve gotten from my friends and from across the country…It’s hard for me to be in this position and talk about what I want because part of me was hurt and part of me wants to lash out.” He then continued that “It’s very easy for those of us in this institution to become comfortable…and one of the things I think is to show that it happens to all African American males. The second thing is that I want to show Mother’s and all the places, not just bar and restaurants, that this is not acceptable. When Mother’s did this they did not expect this to happen. And the next thing is I want those who get discriminated across the world on a daily basis not to internalize it but to feel like they can fight back.”
9:38 p.m. | Take it to the courts: Senior Natacha Lam said, “There is no demand that I think could make this stop. Money would be nice. Making them train could be fun, but there is no demand that should make this stop. We need to take this to the courts.”
9:36 p.m. |A time out for Mother’s: One student told the auditorium, “I don’t know if a thing like counseling for racism exists, but Mother’s Bar needs to sit down and think about what they did…I’m flabbergasted that an apology hasn’t been given because the first step is admitting that you have a problem.”
9:32 p.m. | What’s The Real Issue?: Senior Nadia Mann is asking the room what the core issues at play are—the most infuriating thing to her has been that people cannot grasp what the magnitude of the problem is. “People keep asking why this matters and that’s the issue that’s really at hand here,” she said.
9:27 p.m. | Remembering beyond college: “The worst thing I think that could happen is for us to forget about it three years,” one student says. He went on to say that when the students have graduated this conversation needs to go on.
9:25 p.m. | Our Money is Our Vote: Senior Audrey King suggests that seniors’ money should be returned. Another student suggested that the money go toward education.
9:20 p.m. | How Could Mother’s Make it Up?: According to Cutz, attorneys from Mother’s Ball reached out to him earlier today looking to know what they could do to help make the situation better and alleviate the media storm. Cutz posed the question to the room: What could Mother’s do to make up for this?
9:15 p.m. | Acting in Our Own Community: Students are discussing whether the community’s response should focus on Mother’s in Chicago or whether it should focus on the local St. Louis community and discrimination broadly. “It’s absolutely necessary that we reach out to the people who don’t want to have this conversation,” said one graduate student.
9:13 p.m. | More than an apology: One student who witnessed the even says that he wants “One, an apology, but not only an apology. I want an admittance that this was racism.”
9:09 p.m. | More protests- A Junior asked is there is another protest planned, as she could not be a part of the first one. Fernando Cutz answered that “We would be open for discussion on whether you would be open to that tonight.”
9:04 p.m.| Punishment for Mother’s: The moderator asked “What, in your world, would you like to see done to Mother’s Bar?”
9:00 p.m. | What’s Next?: The conversation is shifting toward what the student body should do next. Cutz is recapping what has happened so far: Chancellor Wrighton wrote a letter to Mayor Daley calling for an investigation and Northwestern University has been involved with the discussion (a reporter from the Daily Northwestern is at the forum)
8:58 p.m. | “A seriously large pitcher of lemonade”: “Never underestimate the power of a Washington University education,” Karen Aroeste the Anti-Defamation League said. “You do have an opportunity to turn lemons into a seriously large pitcher of lemonade,” she added before telling students “I would think carefully before you decide operate, because the nature of civil rights cases is that you still take it on the chin.”
8:56 p.m. | Civil Rights groups reaching out: Fernando Cutz speaks about the Anti-Defamation League and how they were the first group to reach out after the incident.
8:49 p.m. | A “microcosm of the real problem”: One student said that, “We can sit here all day and be angry about six guys being rejected from a bar—and I support you guys totally—while there are 50,000 black men in East St. Louis getting rejected from society.”
8:49 p.m. | The Discussion Heats Up—In Cyberspace: The discussion in the room is heating up as the topic of conversation begins to turn toward life Washington University. At the same time, there is a very lively discussion of the forum happening on Twitter—a number of students are posting live updates from the forum to the social networking site. The online participants include @jdherg, @lyricist3 and @brittneyroetzel.
8:46 p.m. |Self-Segregation at Wash.U: “Maybe we need to look in the mirror and see what we perpetuate before we condemn someone else for what they’ve done,” one student said.
8:44 p.m.| Interracial Association: One student says she is not surprised about the Chicago incident as “It happens all the time. I’ve seen it happen on campus.” She says that as a white woman she doesn’t have to deal with it but “it’s important to realize that even associating iwth black people can still be an issue even at Wash. U.”
8:38 p.m.| Is student Leadership important: “I do have a problem with some of the fliers that were put up. I knew some of these men personally, and I know that they are exceptional student leaders. But this wasn’t about whether they were student leaders, this was because they were black…and I don’t want this to turn into a class issue.” – Washington University student.
8:33 p.m.| Student’s react: Multiple students reacted as dismayed by what their peers went through, but extremely proud of their school
8:28 p.m | International Coverage: The New Zealand Journal is the first international news organization to cover the Mother’s incident.
8:26 p.m. | The F.B.I. is On The Case: Fernando Cutz confirms that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun a formal investigation of the incident at Mother’s Bar. According to Cutz, Representative William Clay (D-MO) will be submitting a letter to the F.B.I. tomorrow asking them to expedite their investigation. Cutz also reiterated that Mother’s is in the process of conducting its own internal investigation.
8:24 p.m. | Why No Walk Out: Senior Class President Fernando Cutz takes responsibility for the decision not to hold a walk out, stating worries that people “weren’t level headed and that it could escalate the situation.”
8:22 p.m. | The Mother’s Men Speak: The six Washington University students who were denied access to Mother’s Original Bar are now telling their story. Senior class Treasurer Regis Murayi presented the story and has handed the microphone off to Senior class president Fernando Cutz.
8:10 p.m. | Presentation Has Begun: The lights have dimmed and a PowerPoint presentation is running right now with news clips from stories about the Mother’s Men from the past several days. So far Student Life and the Chicago Tribune have featured prominently—as well as the CNN story that brought the incident into the national spotlight. The room is entirely silent.
8:03 p.m. | Just Getting Started: The auditorium is about three-quarters full (the total capacity of the room is 400) and students continue to mill in. Rob Wild is in attendance and there are news crews from a number of TV stations.
If you have any questions that you would like to see answered during the live blog, post them to the comments section or reply to @StudLife on Twitter.
Correction (10/27/09, 9:49 a.m.):
In an earlier version of this post, Representative William Clay was mistakenly referred to as Representative Henry Clay. Student Life regrets the error.