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A night of binge drinking ends in tragedy and highlights an ongoing problem on today’s college campuses

After a night of heavy drinking, Arizona State University freshman Naomi McClendon, 18, plunged from the balcony of a tenth-story apartment to her death.

Naomi – a Kansas native who was her high school’s student body president – was heavily intoxicated after a night of partying late last month when she wandered out to the balcony of 922 Place and straddled its 6-inch railing.

At 2:40 a.m., she lost her balance, tried but failed to grab the railing, and fell to the ground, say police, citing surveillance footage that recorded the entire tragedy.

The lead-up to the accident reads like a sickeningly inevitable recipe for disaster. The night went like this: an underage girl went to a party that was clearly intended for binge-drinking (if the $30 unlimited-drink ticket is anything to go by); the party was sponsored by Alpha Epsilon Pi, a banned fraternity with a history of alcohol-related infractions; and the incident took place in what the locals call the “Loud Party Corridor,” known for its raucous parties and associated crime.

After this girl got so drunk that she couldn’t even walk straight, according to surveillance videos, her friends accompanied her to an apartment to sober up, then went to another party and left her behind, alone. By the time anybody thought to look for her, the State Pressreports, she was already dead.NaomiInside

Even for a campus known for its heavy partying, the grisly death has shocked the Arizona State University community and prompted police to pledge to crack down on underage binge drinking.

“Naomi has captured the hearts of a lot of people this week. We have received a lot of phone calls. We are not going to tolerate under-aged drinking, the binge drinking,” Mike Pooley, a Tempe police spokesman, told the Arizona Republic. “We’re very upset about what happened, it should not have happened.”

This accident was particularly heartbreaking because there were so many opportunities to prevent it.

In fact, the party that preceded Naomi’s death had already been raided and shut down by the police – but it was after Naomi had already left, according to various press reports.

If she had not been served alcohol illegally, if a fraternity that had been banned precisely for this sort of thing hadn’t been having an out-of-control party right near campus, if she hadn’t been abandoned by her friends – Naomi might still be alive today.

The culpability is widespread. Personal responsibility plays a part. After all, Naomi shouldn’t have been drinking at all. But she certainly didn’t deserve to die. As the New York Daily Newsreports, she had a commendable academic past as a high school student body president and a promising future as a non-profit management student.

The larger problem is the toxic drinking culture that has integrated itself into college campuses across the country. Binge drinking is normal at college parties.

According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, half of college students who drink alcohol also binge drink, and 1,825 college students are killed by drunken accidents every year.

What’s more, the illegality of under-age drinking has become like jay-walking: merely a technicality. Uprooting such a deeply entrenched part of college culture, one that has become a rite of passage for many, is incredibly difficult.

Despite the difficulty of enforcement, the Arizona State University community has been spurred into action by the tragedy.

According to the Republic, the state Department of Public Safety, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, and ASU police departments have committed to a crackdown on underage drinking.

They are taking their cue from this last fall’s successful Safe and Sober campaign, which targeted drunk driving, underage drinking, and raucous parties. The campaign racked up 1,772 arrests and drastically reduced crime associated with drinking and partying, such as robbery (which dropped by a whopping 76 percent during the campaign), vandalism, and assault.

As for the people who supplied Naomi with alcohol and sponsored the party, they will be charged with various misdemeanors, police have said, adding ASU administrators and the police are monitoring the area around campus, dedicated to preventing another tragedy at an institution meant for education.

College Fix contributor Emily Holmstead is a December 2013 graduate of BYU.

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The Arizona State University chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity has had its charter permanently revoked by university administrators in response to a controversial party it hosted, campus officials announced Thursday.

The fraternity threw a “MLK Black Out” party on Jan. 19. Pictures depicting partygoers drinking out of watermelon cups, wearing basketball jerseys and flashing gang signs found their way onto social media outlets, prompting a firestorm of outrage among some in the campus community and nationally.

Campus officials said the party “encouraged a racially-insensitive theme and created an environment conducive to underage consumption of alcohol.”

This wasn’t the first incident that the university disciplined TKE for, prompting the university to issue a harsher punishment this time around, administrators explained.

The party also violated university rules by including alcohol, risking the safety of students, and engaging “in discriminatory activities, including harassment and retaliation, as prohibited by applicable law or university policy,” campus officials stated Thursday.

In their announcement, administrators also cited the party’s theme in the context of its proximity to the observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as cause for action.

“ASU has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major university in the country, and it is unfortunate that a few individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation were celebrating Dr. King’s achievements and legacy,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a prepared statement.

The decision to revoke the charter permanently comes on the heels of its suspension earlier this week by campus officials.

Although some observers have said campus officials overreacted and infringed on students’ First Amendment rights, as the frat party was not held on campus nor was it a university-sanction event, administrators, in their announcement, argued that “when students gather as part of a university recognized organization, whether it is a varsity sports team, the student newspaper, an academic club or a fraternity, students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the core values of ASU, which include respect for all people, races and cultures.”

The university may pursue further disciplinary action and “is continuing to investigate the actions of individual fraternity members and other students who may have attended the party under the ASU Student Code of Conduct.”

“Teaching and nurturing integrity within our diverse university community is a significantly complex challenge, but one to which we are wholly and unwaveringly committed,” Crow said.

Those who do not uphold that standard of integrity “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,” he added.

College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at the University of Arizona.

IMAGE: A2gemma/flickr



By now many have heard about the infamous “MLK Black Out” frat party at Arizona State University, which took place on Sunday and included basketball jerseys for a dress code, and partiers flashing gang signs in pictures and drinking out of watermelon cups. It made national headlines.

As a student at Arizona State University, I am embarrassed by the nature of this event. It was tasteless, juvenile and wrong.

However, I feel that the reaction from the likes of media, activists and campus administrators has been blown way – way – out of proportion.

The fraternity has been suspended. An investigation has been launched. People have not just accused partygoers of being “racist,” but the actual party itself an example of “advanced racism,” according to one leader in the black community.

“That’s very dangerous especially on a university campus,” Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an area civil rights activist, told KTAR. “A cup made out of a watermelon is advanced racism. Dressing up like, quote, ‘black people’ – that requires research and is advanced racism. We’re not talking about rookie racists.”

The notion that these were just dumb, impulsive college kids doesn’t fit the narrative.

But it’s important to put this in perspective.

Fraternities and sororities throw many themed parties all the time, practically every weekend.

Some err on the offensive side – “white trash” or “redneck” parties are one example. But no one ever cares about white trash or redneck parties. Outrage only seems to come from parties with black undertones.

That is a double standard.

What is even more saddening is to witness local members of the black community use these events as a platform to gain their time in the spotlight for their 20-second sound byte, as was the case with Rev. Maupin.

The president of the African American Men of Arizona State University, as another example, penned an emotional “open letter,” which he promptly plugged via twitter to national media organizations.

There’s something about using what one believes is a tragic event for your own professional gain which doesn’t sit well with me. Is the goal here to create a constructive conversation about race relations and come up with solutions – or is it to have your blog post go viral and see yourself on the 5 o’clock news?

On a national scale, too often we see the Rev. Al Sharptons and Rev. Jesse Jacksons clamoring toward any hint of possible racist activity to push their own personal and political agendas.

Black leaders appear to live to prove racism still exists by decrying a stupid frat party or similar examples, but often fail to mention the violent, senseless and relentless black-on-black crime that is destroying neighborhoods and lives across this country.

Why are our self-anointed civil rights leaders in the black community not talking about the fact that black men make up 13 percent of the population, yet commit 50 percent of all murders nationwide? Where is the outrage about the disintegration of the African American family; that more than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock?

Dr. Ben Carson writes:

“The epidemic of black-on-black violent crime indicates that there has been a significant deterioration of values in the black community. Not only are the lives of their fellow blacks and others being devalued by street thugs, but the lives of unborn babies are being destroyed in disproportionate numbers in the black community. There was a time when blacks were justifiably angry that the larger community discounted their value, but now, ironically, many members of the black community themselves place little or no value on these precious lives that are snuffed out without thought.”

And in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict last summer, Laurence Thomas, a black professor in the philosophy and political science departments of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, wrote this about what he described as “a deafening silence when it comes seeing the wrongs that black people commit against one another.”

“There is an irony here that seems to be lost on everyone. If the only time that the killing of a black person really troubles the black community-at-large is when a white person, rather than a black person, has done the killing, then in effect what is being said is that a black life has more moral value when that life is ended by a white person instead of a black person. And unless I am missing something, that is precisely the point of view that the KKK would hold.”

To me, the insanely high murder rates and rampant fatherlessness in the black community are the most pressing problems it faces. They are something to get upset about. They are far bigger than a few stupid boys dressing up in tank tops and baggy jeans for an MLK Day party.

Let’s not let them drag us away from the real issues at hand.

College Fix contributor Annica Benning is a student at Arizona State University.


A fraternity’s charter at Arizona State University has been suspended and an investigation has been launched after frat members hosted a party Sunday at which revelers “dressed black.”

Tau Kappa Epsilon at Arizona State held a “MLK Black Out” party the day before the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, prompting outrage and apologies.

“Some are saying the party was intentionally racially charged because all of the attendees were white, the dress code was basketball jerseys, they were flashing gang signs in pictures and drinking out of watermelon cups,” ASU student Dakota LaRavia told The College Fix.

More than anything, it “was a merely a day to get together with a bunch of frat buddies,” said LaRavia, who did not attend that party but knew other students that had.

“Overall, it’s a frat that decided to be stupid and in the end they’ve only hurt their reputation,” she said, adding she did not think the campus as a whole would be deemed racist as a result.

A large contributing factor to the controversy ensued as a result of partygoers posting pictures on the social media website Instagram depicting events of the evening. They quickly went viral. Most of the associated Instagram accounts have since been deleted, or are private.

This has not been the first time TKE has been in trouble with university officials. The chapter was taken off suspension in December, a punishment that was the result of a student injured during a hazing initiation.

In a statement emailed to The College Fix, ASU spokeswoman Julie Newberg condemned the party.

“The party TKE held last weekend was not held on campus and was not a sanctioned university event,” she said. “Because of the latest incident, ASU has suspended chapter operations, can and will take additional action against the individuals involved, and is meeting with the national TKE organization today to take further action against the chapter.”

“ASU has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major university in the country, and it is unfortunate that a few misguided individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation are celebrating Dr. King’s achievements and legacy,” she added.

A member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity professional staff is at Arizona State University to begin an investigation, and local black rights activists are collaborating with ASU to aid the university in developing its reaction.

“Senior Vice President for Educational Outreach and Student Services James Rund has already spoken to two community leaders, Rev. Oscar Tillman, and Rev. Jarrett Maupin, about the university’s response to this incident,” Newberg continued. “The university will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”

The national TKE organization has also spoken out, releasing a statement which disavowed any connection to the party in Arizona.

“Tau Kappa Epsilon does not condone or support any actions by its members that would be defined as racist, discriminatory, and/or offensive,” the statement read. “We apologize for any offensive actions that a few of our members might have participated in.”

“We can assure all other parties that these actions do not represent Tau Kappa Epsilon and the beliefs of love, charity, and esteem that we have stood by for 115 years.”

College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at the University of Arizona.

IMAGE: Instagram


A Republican state senator in Arizona is working to introduce a bill that aims to block the state’s public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.

State Sen. Kelli Ward said her state should not comply with NSA practices until the agency’s efforts comply with the U.S. Constitution. 

“One thing is 100 percent certain: Passage of this bill tells the NSA that their time is coming to an end at state universities in Arizona,” Ward told The College Fix in an interview.

Ward drew inspiration for the proposal, which she plans to introduce during this legislative session, from a conservative activist group’s call for policies intended on protecting the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment Protection Act, as it is called, according to a press release from Sen. Ward and the Tenth Amendment Center, would bar the NSA from recruiting students at Arizona’s public universities.

The state currently has two public universities—Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, Tucson— that actively work with the NSA by way of the National Centers of Academic Excellence Program.

Additionally, the proposed law is abutted by three other integral provisions: It prohibits Arizona’s state and local agencies from providing any financial or in-kind support to the NSA within said state’s jurisdiction; it makes intelligence gathered without a warrant by the NSA inadmissible in state court; and provides sanctions against businesses attempting to engage in commerce with the NSA.

Sen. Ward says that she fully supports the goal of keeping the NSA out of the purview of her state’s college campuses.

There is one notable stipulation, however.

The legislature can only direct the policies of state schools. Private institutions can, if they wish, continue to pursue business interests with the NSA, but, if they remain business partners with the NSA, they would likely see their public funding pulled.

“Once the bill passes, it will automatically stop any new partnerships, and then we’ll look more specifically at how to end the ones currently in place,” Ward said.

The Fourth Amendment Act was crafted from a template created by the Tenth Amendment Center. The group’s ultimate goal is to get the act, or some iteration thereof, in place in every state.

But their immediate goal, said Mike Maharrey, the group’s communications director, is to get the legislation passed in five states:  Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Washington and Maryland, the latter of which is home to the University of Maryland—a university with a large NSA presence.

Indeed, Edward Snowden, the intrepid whistleblower that exposed the NSA’s PRISM and ECHELON programs, told the Guardian that his first job with the agency was as a security guard for one of its “covert facilities at the University of Maryland.” 

The facility at the University of Maryland campus is also, according to reports by The Washington Post, attempting to build a super computer that could break every kind of encryption and firewall meant to protect financial, medical and banking records around the world.

Muharrey told The College Fix that the Tenth Amendment Center, and by extension Sen. Ward’s office, through the legislation, is merely trying to get the federal government’s attention.

He said the NSA is an important tool for national defense, but, if it is to be a noninvasive tool and one that is respectful of individual rights, it must work within the parameters of the Constitution.

The University of Arizona and Arizona State University, citing policies against talking out against legislative proposals, refused to talk to The College Fix about Sen. Ward’s call for the passage of the Fourth Amendment Act.

College Fix contributor Christopher White is a University of Missouri graduate student and an editorial assistant for The College Fix.

IMAGE: Donkey Hotey/Flickr



Earlier this year, my Arizona State University government professor told my class that white people are successful because they have exploited all other people, and that Americans are not all born equal because of slavery.

When I complained about the comments to the college dean, she dismissed my concerns, pointing out I had on a Brooks Brothers shirt. I’ve haven’t heard from her since.

Previously I shared my experience with a dozen or so people and on my personal blog, but the more I thought about it, the more I believed it is a story that needs to be retold among a broader audience. This was not easy to write, but I hope it helps others in similar situations.

Here it goes:

SPRING 2013, PHOENIX – I had recently switched my major to political science after working on a few campaigns over the summer. Being a bit late to the political science game, I had to take a few introductory, freshmen-level classes. One such class was POS150, Comparative Politics.

It was only the second day of our comparative politics class when the professor, Michael Mitchell, went off on an unrelated tangent about race while discussing our syllabus. He told us white people are successful because they have exploited all other people, and that Americans are not all born equal because of slavery.

His comments were not simply offensive to every white person sitting in that classroom, they insulted every American entrepreneur and innovator of any skin color who’s strived to make a better life for his or her family.

I wanted to raise my hand and offer another opinion, but I was scared. I had already seen another person in my class disagree with one of his comments and it did not go well for him, so I sat in silence. Yet I couldn’t shake my feelings of disgust and offense by his comments, especially because they were stated as fact.

So I set up a meeting with Barbara Colby, dean of the school of Politics and Global Studies. I walked into her office and sat down, determined to tell this story. I began by explaining that I had a professor who made some very offensive, racist comments in class.

She sat up in her seat and looked interested.

“Racist?” she asked me, her eyebrows raised in apparent shock.

“Yes,” I confirmed.

I began to tell her my concerns and explained that because of his comments I chose to withdraw from the class and now must either pay to take the class at a community college or pay additional tuition to take it over the summer.

As soon as I got to, “white people are successful,” she sat back in her seat and interrupted me mid-sentence: “Well, I see that you’re wearing a Brooks Brothers shirt. And (the professor’s) comments would be appropriate if they were in a discussion-based setting.”

I could not believe her words. Should I have shown up in sweatpants and a T-shirt to meet with the dean? How did a polo shirt dismiss my concerns?

As for her defense of Professor Mitchell, his remarks were not given during a discussion-based setting. They were presented as a fact in a freshman-level course, which all political science students are required to take.

At this point I saw her getting up in her chair. She handed me her card and said, “I’ll look into it and get back to you.” Look into what? She didn’t even give me an opportunity to finish telling her what Professor Mitchell said. I walked out dumbfounded and broken. There is nothing worse than feeling that you do not have a voice.

As this event happened many months ago, I’ve had time to wait and see what would unfold.

To this date I have not received any correspondence from Dean Colby regarding my concerns. I took the POS150 equivalent at a community college. It was money well spent. Professor Mitchell remains a professor at Arizona State teaching comparative politics. He did not respond to my recent requests for comment. Seeking an update from Dean Colby, I was informed she retired over the summer.

Ironically, it is Professor Mitchell who is successful. He holds a doctorate and works as a scholar at a large university. It is wrong that people such as this man divide everything. Rich and poor, black and white. They sit in the ivory tower of academia and live to breed race-based discontent.

Arizona State is a publicly funded research institution, yet in many cases students are only fed one political viewpoint. This is a disgrace to higher education. Higher education is about encouraging free thinking and discussion, not creating a liberal indoctrination factory.

Fix contributor Annica Benning is a student at Arizona State University.

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