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Apology Expected

After charging the Downtown Westin Convention Center managerial staff with dealing with the Omicron Alpha Phi Alpha Alumni Association. in an "excessively punitive" manner during their scholarship banquet weekend (News Briefs: "Glum Alums," Dec. 11), the black fraternity organization kicked off a write-in campaign that subsequently grew to a boycott of the Westin chain and all hotel chains affiliated with it.


Now, says the alumni group's Vaughn Clagette, "It sounds like they want to resolve this."


That boycott should come to a halt now that alum representatives Clagette and Lyle Wood have come to agreement with the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, corporate parent of the Westin hotels. According to Clagette (neither Starwood nor Westin Convention Center representatives returned calls to City Paper), Starwood's public relations director offered to write apology letters to each individual involved in the incident, make a yet-to-be-determined donation to the organization's scholarship fund and provide documentation on the mandatory cultural sensitivity diversity training materials given to all of Starwood's employees.


Clagette says the incident cost his group "potentially between $3,000 and $10,000" but that resolution of the dispute was not dependent on how much money they were offered.


"This is about principle," says Clagette. "I believe there is a need to enter into dialogue to determine if there are things in place that would avoid an incident like this from happening in the future. Otherwise, we have lost the true meaning of what the true offense was."


According to Clagette, Starwood originally offered the group an apology, one night's reimbursement for their suite and 50,000 Starwood points -- a system that affords members discounts on hotel rooms and services. Wood balked at the offer, particularly regarding the points. "What do we do with the points?" he said. "Do we get a free hamburger for that?" Such an offer missed the point, Clagette said. "They were dismissive of our concerns until we filed a complaint [with the state Human Relations Commission] and got outside agencies, including the media, involved," he still charges.


"I think in the end, though, they are moving progressively towards resolve," he concludes, "but I'm disappointed it took so long to do that and it had to snowball before they moved on it."



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