Pictures that seem to be taken at a fraternity party attended by students of Arizona State University have stirred another campus controversy. The images show young, white men and women dressed in basketball shirts, oversized shorts, and jeans with the legs rolled up. On their heads are bandannas and flat-brim hats; in their hands, hollowed-out watermelons with straws hanging out.
Underneath the Instagram images, the hashtags provide a bit of explanation: #blackoutforMLK, #ihaveadream, #hood, #mlkparty.
The ASU chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity is now facing suspension over the gathering, which was allegedly organized to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal US holiday honoring the late civil rights leader on the third Monday in January. According to a statement released Tuesday by the university, chapter operations have been suspended and "additional action" may be taken against individual students.
Pictures of the party circulated quickly online, though the Instagram accounts connected to some of the photos have been deactivated. Unsurprisingly, the photos drew ire from far and wide, with students and local leaders chiming in.
The ASU chapter of TKE has been in hot water before. In fact, at the time of the "#mlkparty," the fraternity was already on disciplinary probation following a violent fight in 2012 that left one student injured. A statement issued by Arizona State claims that the recent party violated this probation, hence the suspension.
"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," read the statement. "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."
The International chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon also issued a statement to HLN affiliate KPHO, apologizing for the actions of its members and vowing to launch an investigation.
"Tau Kappa Epsilon does not condone or support any actions by its members that would be defined as racist, discriminatory, and/or offensive," the statement reads. "It is with embarrassment and regret when [sic] a few individuals within our organizations make decisions that do not align with the values and principles of Tau Kappa Epsilon."