Thursday, January 23, 2014

Arizona State University's problem

Arizona State University has a problem with one of its fraternities, Tau Kappa Epsilon.  The ASU chapter held a party off campus on Martin Luther King Day but among the things that upset many people was the fact that the partygoers wore hip-hop clothing, used cups made from watermelon that had been scooped out and photos were posted to social media. 

The issue has become one about the First Amendment.  Many in the community want the students who attended the party and whose actions they think were racist thrown out of school.  Others think expelling them would be going a bit too far for participating in what's being termed as an offensive activity where students were just being stupid.  A lot of the intense feelings against this fraternity, known as TKE, is the result of their history on this campus.  In November of 2012, TKE members were involved in a fight with a member of a different fraternity who was an African-American.  That individual was beaten and ended up with a concussion and broken nose.  TKE was already on university probation at the time this party took place.

The African-American community wants them punished.  The question is, do the students have a right to dress the way they did and do the stupid things they did?  What's the penalty for being unbelievably stupid and racist?

Frankly, college fraternity students have never enjoyed a reputation that clearly marks them as having an abundance of good sense.  While I personally think their actions were reprehensible, expulsion of the students involved isn't called for.  

I think the Tau Kappa Epsilon national office should yank the ASU chapter's charter.  That saves the university the trouble of kicking the fraternity off campus.  It's time for ASU to cut their losses when it comes to a "rogue" fraternity like TKE.  In addition, perhaps it's time for ASU to convene a campus-wide discussion on the absurdity, stupidity and despicable nature of the kind of behavior that has aroused the ire of so many people and increased racial tensions in the community.

And perhaps it's time for university students to understand how hurtful their actions can be and how those actions will haunt them throughout their lives, courtesy of the Internet.  Potential employers won't look on those actions as particularly beneficial when it comes to hiring.  And finally, I'd like to see the university take some disciplinary action against all those who were part of this sickening story, enough disciplinary action to make those kids fear that if they step out of line again, there will be no guarantee of an ASU diploma in their future.

Fraternities and sororities should and can be a good influence on young minds.  They do perform a lot of good deeds by participating in social action causes and foster a sense of community for young college students.  But absurd and hateful pranks should not be part of the culture as it seems it was at ASU's TKE chapter.  It's time for them to pack it in.

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