TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona civil rights activist on Monday rescinded his call for Arizona State University to expel members of a fraternity chapter who attended a distasteful party in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day replete with racist stereotypes and offensive costumes.
University officials notified Tau Kappa Epsilon last week that its recognition as a fraternity chapter at ASU was being permanently revoked for violating the school’s student code of conduct.
Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity said only 16 of 125 members of the ASU chapter attended the event. The national organization said those 16 face suspension or expulsion from the frat and the ASU chapter will issue a public apology to the university and community.
The Rev. Jarrett Maupin had said the party “used Dr. King’s holiday as a mask for racial villainy and harassment.” He called on the school to expel all students involved and permanently ban the fraternity from affiliation with ASU.
But on Monday, Maupin changed his stance on the matter.
“I demand second chances for them all. I am rescinding my demand that Arizona State University expel any students connected with the infamously immoral masquerade,” Maupin said in a statement. “Let discipline be meted out — suspensions, sanctions, required diversity and ethnic studies classes. But also let truth and reconciliation talks begin.”
Dan Pochoda, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, wrote a letter Monday to ASU President Michael Crow expressing concern about the students’ protected freedom of expression.
“The fact that these students’ choices were ignorant and insensitive does not infer that serious discipline or expulsion would be legal in the absence of interference with school activities or use of school property,” Pochoda wrote. “ASU should not penalize the students because of negative reactions from the ACLU or others, although some form of intervention may be constructive.”
An ASU spokeswoman said Monday the university has no further comment on the Tau Kappa Epsilon matter at this time.