TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Only 16 of 125 members of an Arizona State University fraternity chapter attended a distasteful party in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day that had racist stereotypes and offensive costumes, the national fraternity organization said Friday, a day after the university cut ties with the chapter.
Alex Baker, a spokesman for Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity, also said that those 16 face suspension or expulsion from the frat and that the ASU chapter plans to issue a public apology to the university and community.
The national fraternity is putting the ASU chapter on probation for at least a year but is not yanking the group’s charter.
However, university officials notified Tau Kappa Epsilon on Thursday that its recognition as a fraternity chapter at ASU was being permanently revoked for violating the school’s student code of conduct.
An ASU spokeswoman said Friday that the university was aware of the national organization’s response and it didn’t change the school’s action.
Pictures from the Jan. 19 party made their way onto social media websites.
The party drew harsh criticism from Phoenix-area civil-rights leaders, who demanded ASU officials expel the fraternity.
A letter sent to the chapter president by ASU officials noted that the 65-year-old chapter was on probation for a November 2012 brawl and had previous alcohol violations.
ASU officials said a majority of TKE members present at the party were underage and allowed to consume alcohol.
“The event and its attendees encouraged a racially-insensitive theme. Subsequent social media posts with the same racially-insensitive context were made available,” wrote Kevin Cook, associate vice president for the dean of students at ASU.
Revoking recognition means the local TKE chapter is no longer affiliated with ASU, the group won’t be listed on the university’s website and it cannot recruit members or hold on-campus meetings.
Baker said in a statement that the MLK party wasn’t an official fraternity event of the TKE chapter and “was not discussed or formally planned by the chapter.”
He said one unidentified member hosted the event “at his personal residence … without malice or forethought.”
The unidentified chapter members who attended the event have resigned their leadership positions with the chapter, Baker said.
Founded in 1899 at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., Tau Kappa Epsilon has about 257,000 members at 291 chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada, according to its website.