University Expels Fraternity For Racist MLK Day Party
Arizona State University has expelled the fraternity who threw a racist “black party” on Martin Luther King Day earlier this week, which featured students wearing stereotypically black clothing and drinking out of watermelon cups. Tau Kappa Epsilon had its recognition permanently revoked by the university over code of conduct violations. The group has been removed from ASU’s website and will be banned from recruiting members and holding meetings on campus. However, others believe that despite being the party being tasteless, the fraternity was simply exercising free speech.
ASU President Michael Crow said that four points in the university’s code of conduct were violated: engaging in discriminatory activities, violating alcohol rules, violating the terms of earlier disciplinary sanctions and off-campus conduct that may present a risk or danger. “Students who violate these standards will be subject to disciplinary sanctions in order to promote their own personal development, to protect the university community, and to maintain order and stability on our campuses,” said Crow.
The national chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon apologized in a statement earlier this week, declaring they do not “condone or support any actions by its members that would be defined as racist, discriminatory and/or offensive.” Meanwhile, local civil rights leaders applauded the expulsion. “They did the right thing to defend the legacy of Dr. King,” said Rev. Jarrett Maupin. “To say to the nation and to the state, and everyone who is watching, that there is a zero-tolerance policy for racism and discrimination at Arizona State University.”
But Robert Shibley, vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), felt that the university was taking the wrong approach. “Parties with controversial themes pop up on campuses every year,” he explained. “The right response to speech we don’t like is more speech, not censorship or punishment.”