ASU expels fraternity after 'racially insensitive' MLK party

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State University has permanently revoked its recognition of Tau Kappa Epsilon as a fraternity chapter at the school, university officials announced Thursday.

The fraternity was recently suspended following accusations that members held a distasteful party in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Civil rights leaders called for disciplinary action after partygoers were seen wearing stereotypical clothing, flashing gang signs and holding watermelon-shaped cups in photos that surfaced on social media and gained national attention.

Below are statements released by ASU on Thursday:

Tau Kappa Epsilon Discipline Statement

Arizona State University has notified Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) that its recognition as a fraternity chapter at ASU has been permanently revoked. This action has been taken after TKE was placed on probation in 2012. TKE was suspended on January 20, 2014 for hosting an unregistered, off-campus event on January 19, 2014 that encouraged a racially-insensitive theme and created an environment conducive to underage consumption of alcohol. 

ASU is continuing to investigate the actions of individual fraternity members and other students who may have attended the party under the ASU Student Code of Conduct. Upon conclusion of that investigation, ASU will take additional action as may be appropriate under ASU and Arizona Board of Regents policies.

When students gather as part of a university recognized organization, whether it is a varsity sports team, the student newspaper, an academic club or a fraternity, students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the core values of ASU, which include respect for all people, races and cultures. The TKE party held last weekend was not held on campus and was not a sanctioned university event.  

ASU has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major university in the country, and it is unfortunate that a few individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation were celebrating Dr. King's achievements and legacy. 

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 was Unite Beyond the Divide.  The annual event, held January 23, 2014, drew more than 300 university and community leaders. This year, the event recognized 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 was played for the public for the first time at ASU' s MLK breakfast celebration on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus, as part of the university's weeklong MLK Celebration <>.         University Libraries worked with a representative of The King Center in Atlanta to make the speech available to the public.
TKE Violations:
5-308 F-3 Violating the terms of any disciplinary sanction imposed for an earlier violation of the Student  Code of Conduct or other Board of university rules
5-308 F-15 Violation of the Board or university rules or applicable laws governing alcohol, including consumption, distribution, unauthorized sale, or possession of alcoholic beverages
5-308 F-17 Off-campus conduct that a reasonable person would believe may present a risk or danger to the health, safety or security of the Board or university community or to the safety or security of the Board or university property.
5-308 F-21 Engaging in discriminatory activities, including harassment and retaliation, as prohibited by applicable law or university policy.

Statement by Dr. Michael M. Crow
President Arizona State University

 As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in the Morehouse College campus newspaper in 1947: "We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education." This sentiment, which Dr. King so eloquently articulated as a young man based upon his personal experience in college, is reflected today in the ASU Student Code of Conduct:
"The aim of education is the intellectual, personal, social, and ethical development of the individual. The educational process is ideally conducted in an environment that encourages reasoned discourse, intellectual honesty, openness to constructive change, and respect for the rights of all individuals. Self -discipline and a respect for the rights of others in the university community are necessary for the fulfillment of such goals. The Student Code of Conduct is designed to promote this environment at each of the state universities."
In evolving a new model for inclusive 21st century higher education, Arizona State University takes to heart its essential responsibilities to educate young adults and to support their character development as part of the learning process. Teaching and nurturing integrity within our diverse university community is a significantly complex challenge, but one to which we are wholly and unwaveringly committed. Universities bear an intrinsic responsibility to advance the intellectual growth of their students through learning experiences that result not only in a diploma, but also in the vital maturation of their individual character.
Accordingly, the ASU Student Code of Conduct sets forth the standards of conduct expected of students who choose to join our university community.  At ASU, 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.