(NNPA)—A group of Black Ivy League students and graduates claim the owners of a popular club in Cambridge, Mass. unfairly kicked them out because of their ethnicity.
According to Boston NBC affiliate WHDH, an event was held at Cure Lounge by a group of Black Yale and Harvard students on Nov. 18. But the private function, held in celebration of the big Harvard-Yale football game, was shut down just 15 minutes after it started.
While some bouncers blamed the shut-down on technical difficulties, one of the students said he overheard club managers say they spotted “gang bangers” in line to enter, and were allegedly concerned that the Black students and graduates would draw the wrong crowd.
“We were definitely kicked out on the basis of our skin,” D. Omavi Harshaw, the student who claimed to overhear the comments, told WHDH News.
City officials are calling for a full investigation and have appealed to the mayor’s office of consumer affairs and licensing. But the club asserts that they made the right decision and the party drew plenty of non-Harvard students. George Regan, spokesman for Cure Lounge, said that the club’s bouncers spotted out the perceived criminals in line and ended the party early to protect the patrons’ safety. “There was no mistaken identity,” Regan told WHDH News. “These kids are known in police circles. They are who they are. They’re not good people.”
Sadatu K. Dennis, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design who attended the party, said that she did not understand why club management told attendees that the event was closing due to technical difficulties with the stereo system if the real rationale was a concern about club security, according to the Harvard Crimson. Dennis said when she got to the club around 10 p.m.—45 minutes before the management announced they were shutting the party down—she did not see anyone outside the club who did not appear to be affiliated with Harvard or Yale, and said she was not asked to show her Harvard ID.
The event’s organizers later issued full ticket refunds and apologies to anyone who was offended or embarrassed.
This is not the first time Black Harvard students have spoken out against racial profiling. In 2008, members of the Harvard Black Men’s Forum and the Association of Black Harvard Women organizations voiced their anger after they were approached by campus police for having an outdoor picnic in a quad between houses, according to ABC News. The students, who were wearing their association’s shirts with the university’s name on them, said similar events were often held in the area.
“I think that incident knocked me back into reality,” Alneada Biggers, then-president of Black Harvard Women, told ABC News during the time of the incident. “Harvard is a microcosm of the world. You still have people who are ignorant and may still be prejudiced and may still be racist. A lot of students were hurt that [other students] would call the police on us.”
In response to that incident and other complaints of racial profiling, the university called for a review of the campus police department’s diversity training in August 2008.
(Special from the Afro American Newspapers)