Duke fraternity suspended for throwing racially insensitive party

Feb. 06, 2013 @ 05:54 PM

DURHAM — The parent organization of Kappa Sigma fraternity suspended on Wednesday its chapter at Duke University after a weekend party which some students viewed as racially insensitive.

Last Friday's party was reported to have featured an Asian theme. Larry Moneta, vice president of student affairs at Duke University said the title was changed to international relations after some students complained.

Pictures posted online showed people attending the party dressed in Asian-style clothing and a greeting which mocked Asian dialect.

"The Kappa Sigma Fraternity finds that the actions which have been associated with this event are inappropriate and insensitive and Kappa Sigma does not condone such activity," Kappa Sigma executive director Mitchell Wilson said in a statement. "This matter will be investigated and the fraternity will address this matter in an appropriate fashion."

Wilson said the fraternity must cease all activities until the investigation is complete and the findings of the probe are reviewed. Moneta said the school is also considering taking action.

Chapter president Luke Keohane wrote a letter to the student newspaper apologizing to anyone who was offended, acknowledging that the chapter's actions have aided racial divides and stereotypes.

A statement from the fraternity, headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., said the Duke chapter is its second oldest chapter. It was originally founded on Feb. 2, 1873, when the school was known as Trinity College.

An Asian student group filed a formal complaint and held a rally on Wednesday to protest the fraternity's actions. The Asian Students Association called on the school to establish a task force to deal with incidents such as the party.

Last November, Duke's athletic department removed a photo from its website showing a women's lacrosse player dressed in blackface at a team Halloween party. Coach Kerstin Kimel and her players apologized for the picture.