PHOENIX ― An Arizona State University fraternity’s operations have been suspended pending an investigation into accusations that the local Tau Kappa Epsilon’s chapter hosted a distasteful party in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, replete with racist costumes poking fun at African-American culture.
University officials planned to meet Tuesday with fraternity representatives regarding the off-campus party over the weekend.
“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,” Sharon Keeler, an ASU spokeswoman, told The Arizona Republic. “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 did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
Alex Baker, a spokesman for the national fraternity organization, said representatives would be meeting with university officials on Tuesday to discuss the matter further.
“Tau Kappa Epsilon does not condone or support any actions by its members that would be defined as racist, discriminatory, and/or offensive,” Baker said in a statement. “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.”
Pictures from the party made their way onto social media websites, depicting guests dressed in basketball jerseys and flashing gang signs, among other things, KPHO-TV reported.
“I think this represents the ignorance that still exists today. This is just one example of the kind of things that occur here,” Kaajal Koranteng, an ASU senior, told the TV station.
The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an Arizona civil rights activist, called the party antics outrageous and offensive and said the university and the fraternity’s national chapter should be more forthcoming about what occurred.
“It was just a raucous, racist rally, and they used Dr. King’s holiday as a mask for racial villainy and harassment,” Maupin said Tuesday.
Maupin is calling on the school to expel all students involved in the party and permanently ban the fraternity from campus.
He plans a news conference for Tuesday afternoon with numerous community leaders.
The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity was already on probation for previous offenses, including an assault involving members of another fraternity in 2012, The Republic reported. The disciplinary action, according to ASU, meant the fraternity was not allowed to have parties. Its probation was set to end May 17.
Founded in 1899 at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., the fraternity has about 257,000 members at 291 chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada, according to its website.
In 2012, the University of Arizona stripped its local chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon of recognition after an investigation showed multiple instances of dangerous hazing.