Arizona State University school officials have suspended members of the school's fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon after photos from its "MLK Black Party" event circulated and offended other ASU students, civil rights groups and many others who saw the pictures on Instagram.
According to local news source KPHO, the event was an unregistered Greek event with Tau Kappa Epsilon, where members and guests showed up wearing basketball jerseys, posing for photos with gang signs and drinking from watermelon cups. Photos still circulating on the Web also included hashtags such as #blackoutformlk, #ihaveadream and #mlkparty.
ASU said the university has suspended the chapter's operations and will take "additional action against the individuals involved" since the TKE chapter was already on social probation and was prohibited from having parties.
"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. King's achievements and legacy. The university will not tolerate this kind of behavior," the official ASU statement read.
KPHO reported the ASU TKE chapter was just reinstated as a fraternity in December after being suspended for inappropriate conduct. The Los Angeles Times noted that Tempe Police Department had an incident on record of 20 TKE frat members assaulting its rival fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, in November 2012.
Word of the TKE "MLK Black Party" caused the Tau Kappa Epsilon International fraternity to apologize on behalf of the local chapter:
"Tau Kappa Epsilon does not condone or support any actions by its members that would be defined as racist, discriminatory and/or offensive. Social events with "party themes" that are defined as such have no place in our fraternity's mission or purpose. 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.
"Since 1899, our fraternity has taken much pride in the diversity and uniqueness of our membership. Tau Kappa Epsilon has never had an exclusionary clause in our membership. Our founders believed, as we do today, in the personal worth and character of the individual, not his wealth, rank, or honor. We take great pride in having members who were and are still advocates of civil rights movements in the United States. We celebrate all men and women of all races, genders, creeds, orientations, and beliefs who strive each day to make the world a better place.
"We apologize for any offensive actions that a few of our members might have participated in. We can assure all other parties that these actions do not represent Tau Kappa Epsilon and the beliefs of love, charity, and esteem that we have stood by for 115 years. We will respond to these individuals while holding the utmost respect for our principles of being Better Men for a Better World.
"A member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity professional staff is currently on-site at Arizona State University to begin an investigation. We have been working with university officials since we became aware of the alleged incident."