I really question the future of our country sometimes when I come across stories like this, because the evident stupidity shown by these ASU kids is up there with getting shitfaced and telling a TSA official your friend might have a bomb in his carry-on as you’re making your way through airport security, about to embark on spring break. It’s just something you don’t do, because 100 times out of 100, you will get in trouble and subsequently ruin the experience for everyone else.
Now let’s take a look a what happened here, per CBS 5 Arizona
A representative for Arizona State University said school officials have suspended Tau Kappa Epsilon’s chapter operations while they investigate an unregistered Greek event that has many on campus offended.
Pictures from the event, coined “MLK Black Party” by the group, show members and guests dressed in basketball jerseys, flashing gang signs and even drinking from watermelon cups.
What did these partygoers actually look like?
First off, let’s get one thing clear – it’s not necessarily upsetting to me personally that these kids donned basketball jerseys, flat-brimmed hats, and other “hood” related swag gear to throw a themed party. We’ve all been there, throwing back some 40s and singing along to racial slur laden rap songs for reasons that might offend others.
However, let’s agree to completely understand the sentiment here that carries the potential to be highly offensive to some people on a racial level, especially given the fact that this event was specifically tailored and planned to take place on Martin Luther King Day. Like yelling bomb in an airport, it’s just something that anyone with a toddler’s notion of rational decision-making would shy away from.
That said, this is America; our country is a melting pot of culture and beliefs, be it religious, political, moral, ethical, or otherwise, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions and moreover, as defined by our Constitution, freedom of expression to do whatever it is that makes them happy.
Using this logic, was it wrong for these kids to theme a party like this and have a little bit of fun?
Was it in bad taste, knowing that it carried the potential to be offensive not only to fellow students, but anyone who is aware of the racial dynamic that exists in our country?
So going back to the top here, knowing that on a personal level, I’m not someone who would go to great lengths to reprimand the kids in question here, because frankly, I know the basis of any themed party is to have fun, cut a little looser than normal, and have an excuse to dress up like something you normally wouldn’t (essentially, that freedom of expression), I’d like to point out what was the most upsetting thing that took place here…
Ultimately, it seems that people cannot get it through their skulls that the internet is a PUBLIC DOMAIN, and any information in the form of pictures, text, or videos that you or your friends publish onto the web becomes PUBLIC INFORMATION that can be accessed by ANYONE. Not just your friends, but your family, potential future employers, and of course, anyone in the media that sees it fit to write a story about your hashtagged “#blackoutformlk” Instagram pictures.
In this case, the photos from this “MLK Black Party” were clearly found by people who either see them fit to share, or deem them offensive, thus landing the ASU TKE’s in some very hot water.
Looking back in history, situations like this have never ended well for any chapter. Regardless of the exact theme, if a party carried a racial connotation and that connotation became public through the ways of the internet, it likely carried hefty punishment, because it upset enough people to warrant a backlash.
Remember the Chi-O’s from Penn State who dressed up an Mexicans? Or what about the Kappa Sig’s a Duke that wanted to throw an Asian Rager? Or those University of California Delta Chi’s that hosted a “quincenera” a few months ago and encouraged members to dress like Latina gangsters? And the several Greek organizations at UT who threw one too many Fiesta parties?
What do these all have in common?
They can be deemed racially insensitive, of course. But let’s look a little further than that – they ALL became national news stories because information and pictures regarding the party became public, via the internet.
It’s unfortunate to see lessons learned the hard way, over and over and over and over and over again, but the Arizona State TKE’s here aren’t in trouble because the party happened; they’re in trouble because people who found out about the party didn’t like that it happened, because there was a digital trail all too prevalent left behind by involved, and really stupid, members.
In looking at their Facebook page, it’s a shame, because it appears the chapter usually steers clear of anything ill-willed (save a fight every now and then, but boys will be boys), and are extremely committed to philanthropic efforts that benefit the ASU community.
In closing, just a little admonishment to offer here, specifically for anyone who sits on the Exec Board of his or her chapter: it’s one thing to throw a party themed like all the aforementioned – generally, it’s all done in good fun, people have a great time, and the racial or political repercussions aren’t realized until a whistleblower speaks out and the national spotlight is suddenly upon your organization like white on rice.
But Goddammit, you guys need to be more conscious of the content that you or any members of your organization share on the internet. Remind people at chapter that if you have even have to question the nature of a picture, comment, or video, it shouldn’t be publicly shared. If you’re planning an event similar to those mentioned here, remind people that under no circumstances should people outside of those invited be made aware of it. Enforce sanctions on those members who choose to disregard your warnings, because in the end, just like the airport analogy I used to begin, they will ruin the fun for everyone, and this of course, is unacceptable.
[via CBS 5 Arizona]