Suspended Arizona State Univ. fraternity's MLK party draws criticism

7:03 PM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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TEMPE, Ariz. (USA Today) -- Local civil rights leaders are calling for an Arizona State University fraternity to be expelled after photos emerged of a Martin Luther King Jr.-themed party where attendees wore stereotypical hip-hop clothes and drank out of watermelon cups.

Leaders were planning a 2 p.m. press conference Tuesday outside the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin is demanding the university revoke recognition for the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which was already on probation for fighting with a rival fraternity before this incident, off campus for good.

"We want them gone," he said.

Revoking a fraternity's recognition would mean the local chapter could no longer recruit members or hold meetings on campus and would no longer be recognized as a student organization by the university.

A representative from the fraternity's national chapter said a national staff member was at ASU Tuesday to begin an investigation.

Images are circulating on social media of partygoers wearing baggy basketball jerseys, gang-affiliated colored T-shirts and bandanas. The partygoers also appeared to flash gang signs in the photos and used hashtags such as 'blackoutformlk' and 'ihaveadream.'

The photos also show people at the party wearing saggy pants and posing with hollowed out watermelon cups.

"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," said Sharon Keeler, an ASU spokeswoman.

"ASU has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major university in the country, and it is unfortunate that a few misguided individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation are celebrating Dr. King's achievements and legacy," Keeler said. "The university will not tolerate this kind of behavior."

Tau Kappa Epsilon was already on university-imposed probation for a 20-member assault on members of a rival fraternity in November 2012. The incident took place in an off-campus apartment complex. As part of the probation, the fraternity was not allowed to have parties.

A Tempe police report says on 4 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2012, a group of 20 or so Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity members walked into the courtyard of the Hayden Terrace apartments, the unofficial "home" of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. They turned over a Ping-Pong table and then went up to a member of the fraternity getting home from work. One man told him some "Dekes," as the fraternity's members are known, had beaten up some TKE members and they were there to get revenge. He then punched the Deke member multiple times in the face.

The Deke member would tell police that four other men took turns punching him. He suffered a concussion and a broken jaw.

The victim said the men then went to the apartments across the street. Police went to the complex but saw no one who matched the description. No one was arrested. ASU investigated the incident and put the TKE fraternity on probation until May 17, 2014.


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(USA Today)

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