Black Leaders Call for Action After ASU Frat's "MLK Black Party"

The Reverend Jarrett Maupin called for Tau Kappa Epsilon to be permanently banned from Arizona State University after the fraternity held an "MLK Black Party" on Monday.

"TKE has a problem with African-American students," the local black activist said at a press conference he called Tuesday at ASU's downtown campus. "They have a problem with black people as a race, and there's no room for that in what [ASU President Michael] Crow has called 'The New American University.'"

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Maupin also wants students who planned or attended the party expelled, and for ASU to acknowledge race problems on campus.

"There is a zero-tolerance policy for racism in our public universities, and we are demanding action as a people," Maupin said.

ASU student Malik McLaurin, who spoke at the press conference, agreed that racism at ASU needs to be addressed.

"I'm actually happy that this incident did come to light because this is a situation that is apparent to students at Arizona State University, the African-American students," McLaurin said. "Finally, everyone else sees what the situation is at Arizona State University."

Describing "the black student bubble" at ASU, McLaurin said, "We sit down in a class, and you see a bubble around you. No one sits to your left, no one sits to your right; you sit there alone. No one communicates with you, you don't have study partners; this is something [that only happens] with African-American students."

Also on hand, the Reverend Luther Holland suggested that the university mandate anti-racism training for every employee.

"You don't know what racism is until you have an opportunity to role-play it and experience it," Holland said.

TKE has been on disciplinary probation with ASU since 2012 and was suspended for this incident. ASU administrators met with the national TKE organization Tuesday 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. King's achievements and legacy," a statement released by the university said.

But should ASU fail to take significant action against TKE or meet with leaders in the African-American community, Maupin says he's not afraid to take action against the school: "If Dr. Crow doesn't meet with us, we're going to call for a national boycott of the Sun Devil athletic program and do everything we can to halt the inflow of money for the remodeling of that stadium. It's certainly within our power to do it."

But above all, Maupin wants to ensure that incidents like the "MLK Black Party" will cease to exist at ASU.

"Dr. Crow has to decide that he is going to take decisive, direct action in the spirit of justice and in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. to make sure that black students, that all students, are safe on the campus," Maupin said.

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Sarah Dinell
Contact: Sarah Dinell