ASU fraternity under scrutiny for MLK Day party

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) - An Arizona State University fraternity's operations have been suspended following accusations that the local Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter hosted a distasteful party in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, replete with racist stereotypes and offensive costumes.

University officials planned to meet Tuesday with fraternity representatives regarding the off-campus party over the weekend.

"The party TKE held last weekend was not held on campus and was not a sanctioned university event. Because of the latest incident, ASU has suspended chapter operations (and) can and will take additional action against the individuals involved," Sharon Keeler, an ASU spokeswoman, said in a statement Tuesday. "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."

Alex Baker, a spokesman for the national fraternity organization, said representatives plan to meet 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, flashing gang signs and holding watermelon-shaped cups, 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, said the party antics were outrageous and offensive. He is calling on the school to expel all students involved and permanently ban the fraternity from campus.

"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.

He plans a news conference Tuesday afternoon with numerous community leaders.

The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity was already on probation for previous offenses in 2012, according to ASU. The university did not provide additional details of the disciplinary action.

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.

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