Arizona university revokes fraternity's charter over "racially insensitive" party

PHOENIX Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:49am EST

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona State University said on Thursday it had permanently severed ties with a campus fraternity whose members threw a party with a "racially-insensitive" theme that has drawn outrage from leaders in the black community and beyond.

The large public university said it revoked the chapter status of Tau Kappa Epsilon and is investigating students for policy violations for the event on January 19, a day before a U.S. holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

"It is unfortunate that a few individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation were celebrating Dr. King's achievements and legacy," the school said in a statement.

Pictures circulated on social media websites showed white students dressed in sports jerseys and baggy clothes, flashing gang signs and drinking out of watermelon cups. The behavior drew swift and harsh condemnation.

The school first suspended the fraternity on Monday for hosting the unregistered, off campus event that encouraged underage drinking, it said.

Tau Kappa Epsilon had received the university's decision and would be "issuing the results of our own investigation shortly," fraternity spokesman Alex Baker said.

"We apologize for any offensive actions that a few of our members might have participated in," the fraternity said in a statement on Tuesday.

The university has "truly showed that it has a zero tolerance policy toward racism," Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a local civil rights leader, told Reuters.

"I feel that should be praised for taking a firm stance against a fraternity that engaged in blatant and cruel forms of racist and discriminatory behavior," said Maupin, adding that it still needs to discipline those involved and take steps to prevent such events happening.

The decision means that the fraternity, which was founded in 1899 and has nearly 300 active chapters and colonies in the U.S. and Canada, according to its website, cannot operate on campus.

This was not the first time that Tau Kappa Epsilon had been disciplined by the university. The chapter was placed on probation in 2012 for a fight involving several of its fraternity members, officials have said.

(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Michael Perry)

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Comments (8)
Herbal.Ed wrote:
Racists will be racists.

Jan 24, 2014 5:46am EST  --  Report as abuse
tpvero wrote:
Of course this is offensive and put the African community up in arms because all our rights need to be protected. However I wonder why the African American community does not take a stance about the offensive, crass, and often violent song titles the emanate from the African American culture that the rest of us have to deal with. One song title comes to mind. And I quote ” Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Kendrick Lamar. Where is the outrage! Why do non African Americans have to be subjected to this?

Jan 24, 2014 7:47am EST  --  Report as abuse
Mylena wrote:
This resolution the only thing that will cause is more hate in between. The percentajes does not lie, Why always the authorities are protecting just one race , that match inside 75% of the crimes conmitted in US the last year under 40 years old? I am not racist , I just to be fair enoguh to see the whole picture.Roberies, carjacking following death in parking lots, liquors, etc, etc, etc,

Jan 24, 2014 9:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
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