As an alumnus of ASU, I was disturbed and saddened by the recent events involving the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and its ill-chosen theme for the party held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
As a former president of the Beta Xi chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon in 1956, I am very disappointed in whoever organized such a stupid gathering and the lack of control exercised by the fraternity over its member’s behavior. It was an egregious display of not only poor judgment but extremely insensitive degradation of a holiday commemorating the birthday of a great American.
I can understand the outrage expressed by civil rights groups, the University administration and the fraternity’s national office. However, I also feel some of the actions taken, and some threatened, are entirely inappropriate. If the party was organized and conducted off campus by some fraternity members in a private house; the participants alone should be identified and punished accordingly, but the chapter should not be held responsible for the activities of a few on their own time and on private premises.
The fraternity can dismiss them and the University can expel them, but to banish the entire fraternity from the ASU campus over this incident seems unreasonable, unnecessary and an overreaction.
This is a fine organization of high standards, long-standing principles, fine historic lineage and a solid record in academics, athletics, social interaction and extracurricular activities. To deprive the innocent members of today, and damage the legacy of those who preceded them is unfair and unjustified.
I find banishment of the fraternity and the threats of boycotting school athletics and fundraising for the rebuilding of Sun Devil stadium as demands on the University to be absurd and beyond reason.
The fraternity did not and does not condone any form of racism. We pledged and activated all races and cultural representatives. This may be nothing more than some rogue elements of the membership yielding to their worst inclinations, poorest judgment and most stupid violations of human dignity in an effort to be funny, wild and different in an uncontrolled social setting. Shame on all of them, but in the end, let’s be fair.
Clifford R. Jensen
ASU alumnus, class of 1956
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