Ten Black incoming freshmen at Washington University got a less than stellar welcome by Clayton police when they were accused of not paying their bill at an IHOP earlier this month, a school official told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the school is disputing the police’s timeline of events.
Associate vice chancellor of Washington University wrote an email to school administrators on Monday, according to the St. Louis Dispatch, that when the students were stopped, they were escorted back to the restaurant while officers in their vehicles followed.
A manager told the officer that the group of students were not the ones who left without paying.
“Needless to say, the students were shaken and upset,” Rob Wild said in the email. “This is obviously extremely disappointing. Not how any of us would like to welcome our new students…continuing that the students “did not really appear to fit the description of the suspects other than being Black.”
In a statement Monday afternoon, the city of Clayton wrote:
We are so sorry this was the start for these newest Washington University Bears. For more than one hundred years we have welcomed university students from around the world to be a part of our community. While it is our duty to respond when businesses call for help, we aim to do this in a way that is as respectful and safe for all concerned as we can be. Chief Murphy has reached out to the university within hours of hearing about this to try to meet with these students to both hear what they have to say, but also to assure them (and their families who may be distant) that Clayton and Washington University have a long and proud tradition of safety and support for all students.
On Monday night, the city also released a timeline of events about what happened on its website, saying that they received a call about a “dine and dash” by “four African American males in their late teens, early twenties left the restaurant without paying their bill.”
Three receipts from the group of ten individuals were presented. Two of the individuals, one wearing white and one wearing red, stated they paid cash for their meals and presented no receipts. Two individuals offered to walk back to the restaurant to confirm their payment with the restaurant…Two police vehicles then parked on the east side of the roadway until the individuals reached the IHOP parking lot.
Upon returning to IHOP, the manager confirmed they were not the suspects and the officer expressed appreciation for their time.
Washington University School officials are still sticking behind its students.
“We reiterate the statement we shared yesterday: the incident that occurred on July 7 involving 10 of our incoming first-year students is unacceptable,” said Jill Friedman, vice chancellor for public affairs in a statement obtained by the Post-Dispatch. “We are not going to publicly dispute the timeline. We will continue to work directly with the City of Clayton to resolve our differences of opinion regarding these details and, more importantly, to work toward an acceptable resolution for our students including a direct and clear apology.”