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ASU MLK Party: Fraternity Suspended for Flaunting Racial Stereotypes

Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014 07:42 AM

By Michael Mullins

An Arizona State University fraternity party for Martin Luther King Day is being called racist after pictures of the ASU MLK event surfaced, depicting members of the local Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter flaunting African-American stereotypes.

In the photos, which were posted to social media sites, Tau Kappa members are reportedly sporting basketball jerseys, flashing gang signs, and holding watermelon-shaped cups during the party.

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On Tuesday in an emailed statement to the Los Angeles Times, Arizona State University officials said the fraternity is officially suspended.

"The party TKE held last weekend was not held on campus and was not a sanctioned university event," university officials said. "Because of the latest incident, ASU has suspended chapter operations, can and will take additional action against the individuals involved, and is meeting with the national TKE organization today to take further action against the chapter."

James Rund, ASU's senior vice president for Educational Outreach and Student Services, condemned the fraternity members' actions.

"We regard the behavior exhibited as completely outrageous, extraordinarily offensive and wholly unacceptable," Rund said in a statement, the Associated Press reported. "This kind of behavior is not tolerated by the university, and we intend to take swift and immediate action.

"We just don't have room at the university to tolerate that kind of conduct," Rund added.

Similarly, Alex Baker, a spokesman for the national fraternity organization, said the group does not condone racist or discriminatory behavior.

"It is with embarrassment and regret when a few individuals within our organization make decisions that do not align with the values and principles of Tau Kappa Epsilon," Baker said.

The harsh rebuke and suspension was apparently not enough for local civil rights leaders who on Tuesday held a press conference in which they called for the expulsion of the students at the party.

"It was just a raucous, racist rally, and they used Dr. King's holiday as a mask for racial villainy and harassment," Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an Arizona civil rights activist, said at Tuesday’s rally.

"One of the most dehumanizing actions is to make a mockery of a person's race," Maupin subsequently told the Los Angeles Times. "It's unbelievable that in 2014, young, white, obviously educated individuals are partaking in these kinds of actions."

It is unclear what if any disciplinary action will be taken against the individuals involved, though Rund told the AZCentral.com on Tuesday that "it’s safe to say the status of some individual students. . . is currently in jeopardy."

At the time of the party, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity was already on probation for an off-campus fight in 2012, according to ASU.

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