Local News

Durham Hotel Changes Door Policy After Complaints From N.C. Central Students

Posted August 28, 2003

— A Durham hotel will no longer prohibit North Carolina Central University students staying there from entering the building through the front door, reversing a policy that had angered university officials and students.

More than 100 students at N.C. Central University are staying at the hotel, but when the shuttle bus picks them up for class, it pulls around to the hotel's back door.

"Racism is still going on, unfortunately," student Demetrius Thomas said.

Students were asked to sign contracts that list the hotel's rules. One of those rules instructs students to use the back or side entrances instead of the front door.

"To be told to use the back door, knowing we already paid to live here, we should be able to use all the facilities and come and go as we please," Thomas said.

Black mold was found in four residence halls on the campus at North Carolina Central. About 900 students are staying in local hotels while the dorms are renovated. University leaders said the Hilton did not mean to offend the students who are staying at the hotel.

"I've talked to management about how it would be perceived," said Jennifer Wilder of NCCU Residential Life. "We had a very long conversation, so I really don't think it was a racist move. They didn't think about how it would be perceived."

Hotel managers point out that the rooms students are assigned to are near the side and back doors. They thought it would be more convenient for students to use those entrances.

"They changed the locks on those doors, so their keys would fit and they could get in and out and not have to walk all the way through to get to the hotel," Wilder said.

The hotel's general manager said the policy was misinterpreted by people who saw it as an affront to the school's mostly black student body.

N.C. Central chancellor James H. Ammons had called the policy "unconscionable" and one student said it was reminiscent of Jim Crow laws.

The policy now has been removed from a hotel contract that students were asked to sign.


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