ASU Frat Scandal:
The Moron Chronicles
ASU’s TKE Fraternity Embarasses Themselves As Well As Decent People Everywhere With Dimwitted Prank But Is Expulsion And A Press Conference The Right Way To Find A Remedy?
Members of the TKE Fraternity. Image retrieved from instagram.
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
Jan. 22, 2013 — For anyone who does not know yet, the Arizona State University chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity recently “revived racism,” according to civil rights activist Reverend Jarrett Maupin. The way in which they accomplished this was by throwing a Martin Luther King Jr. Day “Black Party,” where they dressed like stereotypical “thugs,” drank from hollowed out watermelon cups, threw up gang signs for photographs and otherwise made complete fools of themselves for facebook and instagram.
Their little soiree not only became a Valley-wide social media sensation, it also earned the ASU TKEs their very own press conference, where Phoenix-based civil rights leaders decried their activities and spoke about how atrocious this behavior is. Maupin went as far as to say “Tau Kappa Epsilon engaged in the most terrible kind of activity that I think a fraternity or sorority can.”
My question becomes, since when did being a moron become a worse infraction than rape or gang violence? I can get behind these idiots being dealt with harshly by the university: what they did was universally stupid, but let’s not blow things out of proportion here.
No one is getting all antsy in their pantsy when morons just like these kids are throwing “Fiestas” for Cinco De Mayo, and running around in sombreros drinking tequila. To me this is typical frat hijinx, no worse than a “pimps and hoes party,” a “white trash party,” or a “Jersey Shore" party. In fact, put me down for a Jersey Shore shindig for next Columbus Day.
But seriously, instances like this need to be treated more like real life instances that involve real life people. The people at the press conference were calling for all “80 to 125 students” who “organized in it, participated in it ,or promoted it or sponsored it to be expelled from ASU,” and to that I say, well then you won’t learn nothing.
I know this might be hard to believe, but this was not the first racially insensitive theme party in the history of college, hell it is not even the first one at ASU. This is just the first one that made it on to the news, and now everyone wants to take a “hardline” on it, and show off ASU’s “zero tolerance” policy for racism.
Does this “zero tolerance” policy extend to the American history classrooms on campus that tend to teach an askewed American history that glorifies the white man? Does the policy extend into ASU’s hiring and recruitment practices? I would assume not, because as Maupin pointed out, “ASU does not have enough black administrators. There is not enough funding for programs like the Center for Race and Democracy that can prevent instances like this, and there is not enough funds for scholarships for African American students.”
In fact, another of the demands from those putting on the press conference was, “That ASU stop pretending like it doesn’t have an issue with racism within its institutions.” Well in my opinion expelling these students would be admitting just the opposite. To me it sends a message that says ASU is devoid of racism and if these particular students are thrown out it will continue to be a racism-free university.
Racism is not 100 frat boys and sorority girls dressing up like the characters they see in the movies, and it cannot be snuffed out through punishing those who do “racist things.” Racism is an underlying attitude that one race is better than another, racism is state universities that have too few people of color traversing their campuses as undergraduates, even fewer in master programs, and of course hardly any in doctoral programs.
Expelling these kids for doing this stupid party is really doing nothing more than sweeping ASU’s racism issues under the rug. Instead of kicking them out of ASU, why not go talk to these privileged little kids and make them understand why what they did is not OK. Start trying to root out racism at its core through education, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction out of anger and repulsion.
Maupin called the event “sobering for our community,” and I have to wonder how? Was Arizona’s African American population riding high in thinking that racism is dead, and rejoicing in the glow of equality? I would hope not considering they still live in a country where black men are targeted by the police and make up almost as much of the prison population as all the other races combined, and just for insult to injury black women are the fastest rising demographic of prisoner in the country.
Racism never went anywhere, and there is really little to celebrate when it comes to race relations. As outward racism becomes less prevalent and events like this, which at certain points in American history may not have seemed so risque, get criticized and abolished, institutional racism remains a subversive issue that very few people want to talk about.
The last of the demands is one I can definitely understand, that TKE be “permanently banned from operating at, recruiting at, or being affiliated with ASU.” Seems pretty fine, frats are stupid anyway, and this particular one already got into trouble for beating up another student last year. I’m not one for rules, but when you’re playing these university games you play by the university's rules.
Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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