Boycott Threatened over Fraternity’s MLK-Themed Party

Anne Ryman, USA Today, January 21, 2014

Local civil rights leaders are threatening a boycott of Arizona State University’s athletic program and the fund-raising campaign to rebuild Sun Devil Stadium unless the university expels a fraternity and students who organized a Martin Luther King Jr.-themed party.

Civil rights leaders made the the demands at a press conference Tuesday afternoon outside the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin is demanding the university permanently revoke recognition for the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which was already on probation for fighting with a rival fraternity before this incident. Maupin said a boycott of Sun Devil Athletics would include discouraging student athletes from attending the university as well as campaigning against efforts to raise funds to rebuild the stadium.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic after the press conference, Jim Rund, the university’s senior vice president for Educational Outreach and Student Services, said university officials are investigating the incident and expect to make decisions on the fraternity chapter and individuals involved within days.

“It’s safe to say the status of some individual students as well as the future of the chapter is currently in jeopardy,” he said, adding that the party behavior, according to reports, was “outrageous, extraordinarily offensive and wholly unacceptable.”

The fraternity is on suspension while university officials investigate. {snip}

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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.’

MLKParty

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

MLKParty2

Tau Kappa Epsilon was already on university-imposed probation for a 20-member assault on members of a rival fraternity in November 2012. An African-American fraternity member was injured in the attack at an off-campus apartment complex. ASU investigated the incident and put the TKE fraternity on probation until May 17, 2014. As part of the probation, the fraternity was not allowed to have parties.

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