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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

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the long-time chairman of the African-American Studies department at Harvard University says he believes it’s time to rethink race-based Affirmative Action.

During an interview on MSNBC Gates suggested that we replace race-based affirmative action with class-based affirmative action, considering students’ income levels as a factor in college admissions, rather than their skin color.

The beauty of taking economic circumstances into consideration, rather than mere skin color, is that those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds (including members of ethnic minority groups) would continue to get extra consideration in the admissions process. That’s entirely fair, considering the fact that equally intelligent students from low income backgrounds often have fewer resources, lower quality schools, and fewer academic opportunities than wealthier counterparts.

You don’t have to resort to racial discrimination if you simply want to help the disadvantaged, regardless of color.

Gates was the professor who famously held the “Beer Summit” on the White House lawn with president Obama and a Boston-area police officer. He also has a long-running series on PBS, and several bestselling books. Gates is one of the most visible African Americans in the academic world, and he comes out of the mainstream liberal/Democratic fold. Therefore his comments are sure to provoke further debate on this issue, even among those who normally consider themselves proponents of racial quotas.

Furthermore, if attitudes of someone like Gates are changing, it gives one hope that perhaps a new era of colorblind college admissions is within reach.

As Justice Clarence Thomas has written, “Every time the government places citizens on racial registers and makes race relevant to the provision of burdens or benefits, it demeans us all.”

Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, called Gates’s remarks “encouraging” in a blog post at National Review Online.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

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Was Martin Luther King, Jr a conservative? The answer, I think, yes and no. As the face of the 1960’s civil rights movement King argued to advance the causes of organized labor and advocated civil disobedience as a means of resisting racial injustice. Those aren’t things we typically associate with conservatives.

On the other hand, King had no interest in the identity politics that make up so much of the racial politics of liberals today. He argued, most powerfully, for people to be judged by “the content of their character,” not the color of their skin. This argument meshes well with the modern conservatives’ emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility.

At CNN.com, John Blake posts some thoughts on the issue:

As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, a new battle has erupted over his legacy. Some conservatives are saying it’s time for them to reclaim the legacy of King, whose message of self-help, patriotism and a colorblind America, they say, was “fundamentally conservative.”

But those who marched with King and studied his work say that notion is absurd. The political class that once opposed King, they argue, is now trying to distort his message.

King’s most famous words are the crux of the disagreement.

“He was against all policies based on race,” says Peter Schramm, a conservative historian. “The basis of his attack on segregation was ‘judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.’ That’s a profound moral argument.”

I think the answer lies partly in understanding that conservatism itself has changed since the 1960’s. The states-rights conservatism of that day has gone extinct in the mainstream Republican and Democratic parties, insofar as the abolishing of segregation via federal power is now universally celebrated. No major figure in either party today would argue to uphold segregation on the basis of state’s rights.

Yet the left has certainly abandoned King’s vision of a color-blind society, where all would be judged (and indeed all would judge themselves) on the basis of character rather than melanin. And it’s hard to imagine King endorsing the modern left-wing policy of perpetual racial quotas as permanent solution to inequality. And it’s impossible to imagine him doing the kind of blatant race-mongering and profiteering that passes for civil rights leadership among those several men who have sought to fill King’s place as the spiritual and political leader of black America. I don’t need to name names.

I don’t think King would fit perfectly today into either mainstream party when it comes to race issues. The fact is, mainstream liberals have moved away from King’s most enduring principle–that we should assess the individual without regard to skin color. Meanwhile, mainstream conservatives have moved toward him in several important areas–realizing once and for all that states’ rights are secondary to natural rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Was Martin Luther King a conservative?

Maybe that’s the wrong question.

A better one would be this: Are today’s conservatives more like King?

The answer is, yes.

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Image Source: U.S. Library of Congress