ACLU, Reverend Jarrett Maupin Ask That ASU Not Expel Students at "MLK Black Party"
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and local Reverend Jarrett Maupin both have asked that ASU not expel students who attended an "MLK Black Party" hosted last week by fraternity members.
The ACLU has chimed in saying the students' actions are protected under the First Amendment, while Maupin, in a separate statement, now admits he erred in calling for the students to be expelled from ASU.
-ASU Frat's Recognition "Permanently Revoked" by University for "MLK Black Party"
ASU administrators permanently revoked the recognition of Tau Kappa Epsilon as a fraternity last week, after photos surfaced of an "MLK Black Party," on the King holiday, in which the attendees were dressed in basketball jerseys and bandannas, threw up gang signs, and used a hollowed-out watermelon as a drinking vessel.
Maupin, a local black activist, held a press conference on the ASU campus in Downtown Phoenix, calling for the students to be expelled. He's since changed his mind.
"We cannot call for the academic destruction of those blinded by bigotry or ignorance," he says. "We must find the strength, despite our anger and rage, to restore their sight that they might see intellectually and socially that all people are equal and made in the image of God."
Maupin continues, "We are our brothers' keepers, so let me be the first to vouch for the fools. 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 -- though, I fear people on both sides of this issue will crucify me for it."
On this issue, Maupin's not quite on the same page as Michael Meyers, the head of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, who's also black. The two had a something of a war of words last week, as Meyers argued that the students shouldn't be punished. The two don't agree on whether the TKE party was racist, but Meyers didn't think the students should have been punished at all. Maupin's still calling for some punishment.
Immediately after the party, an ASU spokeswoman told New Times that the University "can and will take additional action against the individuals involved," but there's been no additional word on that.
ACLU of Arizona legal director Don Pochoda also implored the University not to take action against individual students, despite how tasteless the party was.
"It is well established that governmental retaliation based on disagreement with students' words or messages is antithetical to the fundamental protections of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," Pochoda wrote in a letter to ASU President Michael Crow. "It is easy for governmental bodies, including public universities, to allow speech and expression that it favors. History demonstrates that coercive governmental powers are primarily aimed at minority and unpopular views. The test of our constitutional protections is whether they will be heeded when faced with distasteful, or even hateful, statements."
Crow, in his only public statement on the matter, floated the idea of disciplinary action against the students:
" . . . the ASU Student Code of Conduct sets forth the standards of conduct expected of students who choose to join our university community. At ASU, students who violate these standards will be subject to disciplinary sanctions in order to promote their own personal development, to protect the university community, and to maintain order and stability on our campuses."See the full statements from the ACLU and Maupin on the next page: