PHOENIX -- An Arizona State University fraternity has been suspended, after controversial pictures surfaced on social media, depicting what many are calling an inappropriate party.
Investigators are looking into accusations that the local Tau Kappa Epsilon's chapter hosted a distasteful weekend party in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Photos of party-goers began showing up on social media sites, prompting a massive outcry.
"These are adults engaging in racism," says Rev. Jarrett Maupin. "They knew what they were doing. What they engaged in is something I'm calling advanced racism."
The party was not a University-sanctioned event, and it was not held on campus. Still, University officials met with fraternity representatives, and have suspended the fraternity's operations.
A fraternity spokesman calls the party an embarrassment and notes an investigation is ongoing.
Arizona civil rights leaders are calling on ASU to permanently suspend the fraternity and expel all students involved.
"Dressing up like black folks takes creativity and effort," says Rev. Maupin. "Creating watermelon cups takes ingenuity."
Many students on campus say they're disgusted by the photos.
"It reflects badly on the University," says one student. "More so on the fraternity, but the fraternity is part of the University, so it's kind of affecting ASU."
Others say they hope that people realize this was just a small group of people. "We have a huge campus. 70 thousand, plus," says a student. "A very small minority of people do that kind of stupid stuff. I don't condone it. I can guarantee most of us don't condone it."
In 2012, the University of Arizona suspended its Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter after instances of dangerous hazing. The fraternity was on social probation and was not supposed to have any parties.
STATEMENT FROM ASU:
Tau Kappa Epsilon has been on disciplinary probation with the university since 2012. 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, can and will take additional action against
the individuals involved, and is meeting with the national TKE organization today to take further action against the chapter. 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. King¹s achievements and legacy. Senior Vice President for Educational Outreach and Student Services James Rund has already spoken to two community leaders, Rev. Oscar Tillman, and Rev. Jarrett Maupin, about the university's response
to this incident. The university will not tolerate this kind of behavior.
ASU has a long history of honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. For 27 years, the university has hosted an MLK Breakfast. This year, the theme is Unite Beyond the Divide. The annual event draws more than 300 university and community leaders. This year, the event will recognize Victory Together and a student leader. In addition, the university has held the annual March on West for the past 23 years. The event features a re-enactment of King's "I Have a Dream" speech where hundreds of local middle-school students attend and learn about the Civil Rights movement.
ASU University Libraries last week made available through the ASU Library Repository, an unknown recording of Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at ASU in 1964 less than a month before the landmark Civil Rights Act was signed. The speech will be played for the public for the first time at ASU' s MLK breakfast celebration honoring community members, student leaders and local schoolchildren on ASU¹s Downtown Phoenix campus, as part of the university¹s weeklong MLK Celebration. University
Libraries worked with a representative of The King Center in Atlanta to make the speech available to the public.
The Associated Press contributed to this story