Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is a man we should all appreciate for teaching us to treat each other equally and respectfully despite the color of our skin. However, some do not seem to understand this and why we have one day of the year devoted to him.
On Jan. 19, students from Arizona State University attended a party thrown by an ASU Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity member at his private home. The party was in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day but had racist stereotypes such as wearing basketball jerseys, flashing up gang signs and drinking out of watermelon cups. Only 16 members of the fraternity attended the party, but the university has revoked the chapter for violating the school’s code of conduct.
According to the Huffington Post, Kevin Cook, associate vice president for the dean of students at ASU, explained, “The event and its attendees encouraged a racially-insensitive theme. Subsequent social media posts with the same racially-insensitive context were made available.”
The word about the party got out when pictures were posted on social media websites and by using hashtags such as #blackoutformlk, #ihaveadream and #mlkparty.
Civil rights members were outraged by the event and demanded ASU officials to expel the fraternity. Since the chapter has been revoked, it is no longer associated with ASU, won’t be on the university’s website and cannot hold campus meetings.
According to Alex Baker, spokesman for the fraternity, the party was not an official TKE event and “was not discussed or formally planned by the chapter.”
The fraternity had already been on probation since November 2012 for previous alcohol violations, and several of the members who attended the MLK party were underage and consuming alcohol.
We would think that by now there would not be parties making fun of racial stereotypes as intensely as this one, especially since it was in memory of such a peaceful leader who wanted the exact opposite of this. The students who attended the party should have realized how disrespectful and rude they were being. All of them are representing a respected university and should have made smarter decisions.
Since only 16 of the 125 members in the fraternity attended the party, it does not seem fair to have the entire chapter revoked. However, those 16 members are part of a brotherhood that they should have appreciated more. They disrespected the members of their chapter who now all have to face the harsh consequences.
TKE did apologize for members of their chapter who attended the party on social media websites. According to the Los Angeles Times, the brothers said sorry for “the offensive and racially insensitive conduct in which a few members of our chapter recently engaged.” They also stated, “The offensive party that took place … was not planned, publicized, endorsed, hosted or condoned in any way by either the Beta-Xi Chapter of TKE or the International Fraternity. We apologize that a few select individuals, in a moment of poor taste and bad judgment, held an event that was both insulting to the community and contrary to the values, principles and ideals of Tau Kappa Epsilon.”
Let’s all take this as a lesson to make better judgments about the decisions we make because it can affect not only ourselves, but those close to us as well. Even though something might seem like a joke and fun time at first, it can turn into being offensive and inappropriate which can lead to harsh consequences.
Christina Danno is a senior English studies and philosophy major as well as a copy editor and columnist for The Vidette. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.