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UT frat suspended over incident
Complaints about blackface episode bring action
| October 31, 2002
| J.J. Stambaugh
Posted on 10/31/2002 5:12:09 PM PST by DWPittelli
UT frat suspended over incident Complaints about blackface episode bring action
A University of Tennessee fraternity has been suspended because of an incident last week in which white members painted their faces to look like the black pop group The Jackson Five.
The national office of Kappa Sigma has suspended its UT chapter, which means the fraternity "no longer has standing as a registered student organization and is suspended from participating in university activities, such as Homecoming," according to a statement issued Wednesday by UT Vice President and Provost Loren Crabtree.
Fraternity members couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, but Crabtree said the national office was cooperating in an ongoing investigation.
A number of black students complained to campus officials last week after a group of fraternity members allegedly walked from their fraternity house to a party on the Cumberland Avenue Strip dressed as the Jackson siblings, according to UT's account.
Even if the national Kappa Sigma organization reinstates the UT Lambda chapter, UT might not choose to recognize the group, according to Crabtree.
"We will require the leaders and members of Kappa Sigma to demonstrate a commitment to uphold our expectations for civility, ethnic diversity and racial harmony," Crabtree said.
Crabtree indicated that individual students involved in the incident might face university sanctions once the investigation is concluded.
Crabtree said the incident was "particularly distressing to the members of the (UT) administration because all fraternities and sororities participated in a workshop a year ago to address a similar situation at another institution."
Crabtree also pointed out measures that UT has taken over the past few months to widen the African and African-American Studies program and a planned semester-long program beginning in January to "celebrate Africa's cultural, entertainment and educational contributions to non-African cultures around the world."
A training program on race and diversity will begin next spring, and a special session covering the same topics will be added to the summer orientation program for new students, Crabtree said.
J.J. Stambaugh may be reached at 865-342-6307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2002, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co
TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Tennessee
What I'd like to know is how this got to be a capital offense for an organization. It isn't just the 5 who are in trouble, the whole frat is thrown out. And assuming UT is a state school, there are constitutional problems with their refusing to reinstate the fraternity based on speech content.
Granted, I wouldn't wear blackface for any number of reasons, one being that I'd know it would lead to such trouble, but it is Halloween season, and they were going as specific people who happen to be black, not, apparently, as some grotesque caricature of blackness or minstrelry.
And if a black person went out as Abe Lincoln or another white man, and/or straightened his hair or used skin lightener, would he face explusion from his fraternity?
Michael Jackson would not be able to get into a fraternity, IMHO.
P.C...easy as ABC!
The people at this university really need to grow up!
posted on 10/31/2002 5:17:09 PM PST
I have discussed this very incident with a few people closer to the situation in Knoxville. First the Kappa Sigm house is located close to the Cumberland Avenue, known as "The Strip". Many students, including some black student groups meet nearby and take a route that passes by the Kappa Sigma house.
Evidently there have been other altercations before between the Kappa Sigma fraternity and some black student groups. While, I agree that this sounds very innocent, apparently there is more to the situation than the media is reporting. Supposedly, many black students saw the opportunity to drag the Kappa Sigs into a racially motivated arguement that esclated to the use of shouting poorly chosen words describing each others ethnicity. It is still a harsh punishment for the entire fraternity at UT, wshen only 5 members were supposedly involved. Maybe some details will come out soon.
I bet these people taking offense aren't offended by Belafonte's slurs of Powell and Rice.
Comment #6 Removed by Moderator
I, for one, am so damn, yes, DAMN, tired of hearing about all these politically correct groups enforcing their views down everyone's throat. Even though what these frat boys did may not have been in good taste, they are still Amerian citizens and are GUARANTEED a Constitutional right to free speech. Just because they go to a state owned school DOES NOT mean that they give up their Constitutional rights.
When are we going to be true patriots and take our country and right back??!!!!!
posted on 10/31/2002 5:42:56 PM PST
To: Paul Atreides
>>>I bet these people taking offense aren't offended by Belafonte's slurs of Powell and Rice.<<<
They also don't seem offended about blacks' being enslaved in modern day Sudan (which is far worse than anything that goes on in this country). And if they claim they're doing nothing because it's another country and they have no rights, we need only look back to South Africa boycotts a decade ago to see the hypocrisy in that lame excuse. Doesn't it seem that they're using the p.c. movement for their OWN selfish benefit, not the betterment of others?
Gess, Austin Powers can make fun of the British, Belgians and Dutch, but we cant joke about the naturaly entertaining Jakson 5... go figure. The fascists have again spoken, they are a superior race and they cannot be made fun of...
posted on 10/31/2002 6:11:35 PM PST
As a Graduate of UT, undergraduate and doctoral, I am offended because there is a multimillion dollar Black Student Union Building that is only for blacks and the SUB for everyone. There would be riots if they spent millions for a white student union building. I am glad it wasn't the Kappa Alphas.
To: DWPittelli; Lurking2Long; Henrietta; TennTuxedo; Paul Atreides; Ciots; I_Publius; lavaroise; ...
So in light of this punishment for Jackson 5 mimicry, doesn't it follow that the U.S. Supreme Court should therefore be even more justified in doing away with race-based university admissions preferences? After all, some African Americans occasionally imitate caucasians' jumping on the basketball court, or dancing, and they also mock how we treat black people as if racism were somehow the ONLY explanation for anything we do that they don't think suits their own preferences. Race-based admissions quotas force us to subsidize such racist behavior, even as the fraternity was privately funded & operated.
When I last visited a large university in the south, the blacks were demanding a a black student union separate and apart from any other. The "other" student union did not
fit the needs of the black students. It was a sore point for everyone and if you questioned it, you were a racist.
I really have trouble seeing any problem here(?) How would a white person pretend to be a black person without painting his face black? It is a hanging offense for black students to paint themselves white?
I guess it's just a case of the folks with the *real* political power flexing their muscles.
posted on 10/31/2002 6:57:21 PM PST
by The Duke
Michael Jackson would not be able to get into a fraternity, IMHO.
For one thing, wearing blackface for Michael would be inaccurate.
posted on 10/31/2002 6:59:07 PM PST
Who said they were even making fun? I dressed up like a black woman on halloween just because it was different. No making fun of blacks, just doing something I have never done. I had a great time! If a black dressed up as a white person on halloween, would I get mad? Hell no! I would have a good laugh with em! Hell, if those guys would have went to the party as Hitler, no problem! Doesn't make any sense to me.
This is just ludicrous, and a violation of their civil rights.
Certainly the Kappa Sigma national group has the right to suspend its UT chapter. But UT also imposed sanctions, which it said might extend even beyond the suspension. Assuming UT is a state school, isn't this constitutionally problematic? Does the suspension by the national make a difference to this? And would the fact that it's a pre-Halloween event make a difference? (Since Halloween comes but once a year, and costumes are standard for Halloween, wouldn't that make it harder to prove that a hostile environment has resulted?)
If such expression can be punished by a state institution, who has decided that it's impermissible expression specifically for a white person to play a black person? Are other groups off limits? Can a white put on Indian paint? Can a black go as a Viking? Does it make a difference if he's either on his way to a Halloween party or a Cleveland Indians or Minnesota Vikings game? Shouldnt the rules be codified before an institution can punish transgressions?
Naturally, I see that historical factors make blacks more sensitive to this issue. Does it make a difference if the students were costumed as the Jackson 5, and were not some nonspecific or grotesque minstrel spectacle? Would it make a difference if they did a good job with their costumes, and appeared to be fans of the group, rather than Jackson mockers? (For that matter, if a grotesque man in drag offends a vocal feminist, will he be punished, and will all drag artists then have to fear such suits?)
Uh, oh! If it gets out that I dressed up as Willie Horton Halloween 1988 my political career is over. My "Mass. State Prison" Sweatshirt on the back was stenciled "W. Horton", and the prison # was: B4I4QRU4DUK
posted on 10/31/2002 7:54:14 PM PST
Pleae give me a break. All these black wiennies can't take any kind of humour. I guess this is what 50 years of welfare will do for you. Destory any sense of humour.
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