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Fraternity to discipline members for racially insensitive party in Arizona

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The parent body of a mostly white college fraternity ousted by Arizona State University for a party mocking black people with racial stereotypes has threatened to expel students involved from the organization.

The Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity said on Friday that 16 members face discipline for their behavior at the off-campus party, held Sunday on the eve of a U.S. holiday marking the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Pictures from the event circulated on social media websites showed white students dressed in sports jerseys and hats and baggy clothing, flashing street gang signs and drinking out of a watermelon cup.

The fraternity denies the gathering was an official event and said it was a party held at a member's personal residence that 30 people attended.

On Thursday, the university revoked the charter status of the Tau Kappa Epsilon and severed ties with the fraternity, which has about 125 local chapter members and has been affiliated with the school for about 65 years.

On Friday, the fraternity's parent body said its ASU chapter would be placed on a one-year probation and would issue a public apology to the university and the community. It also offered to conduct a cultural diversity program.

The fraternity said in its statement that it "strongly condemns and sincerely apologizes for the actions of the few members involved in this incident."

It was unclear what practical effect the chapter probation or expulsion of individual members would have since the university had stripped the fraternity of its charter. A university spokesman declined comment on Friday on the fraternity's actions.

Arizona State has said it was continuing to investigate the actions of the students who attended the party to determine if they violated the school's code of conduct.

Reverend Jarrett Maupin, a local civil rights leader, called the school's decision to break with the fraternity a "watershed moment for race relations at Arizona State University." He urged the school to discipline students who were involved.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker)

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