On Thursday, January 23, 2014, ASU’s President Michael Crow issued an official statement slamming the racist actions of an ASU fraternity on Dr. Martin Luther King day (the fraternity, TKE, held an MLK-themed party in which participants wore stereotypical hip-hop clothes, flashed gang signs, and drank out of watermelon cups).
In his statement, Crow says, “TKE was suspended on January 20, 2014 for hosting an unregistered, off-campus event on January 19, 2014 that encouraged a racially-incentive theme and created an environment conducive to underage consumption of alcohol. ASU 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. 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 TKE party held last weekend was not held on campus and was not a sanctioned university event.”
This party managed to elicit a response and reaction from the PRESIDENT of ASU practically overnight! What distinguishes this specific party from any of the other egregious actions committed by members of ASU’s Greek community is the fact that this party made national news. CNN’s Anderson Cooper called these ASU students “morons” in a 2 1/2 minute segment on CNN.
Contrast this situation to that which is transpiring currently at ASUPD: a department chronically plagued with low morale, low staffing, and a litany of issues in regards to sexual harassment, mismanagement of public funds, and a training program rife with legal liability. Why is Michael Crow so quick to decry this specific situation, when far bigger issues go unaddressed? The simple answer is negative publicity. When something so overtly disgusting–such as a racist party–makes the national headlines, ASU’s primary concern is saving face. Notice how in Crow’s statement, he asserts TWICE that this incident was NOT university sanctioned, and was off campus (in a recent dorm room drug bust, ASU press releases also emphasized that the incident occurred “off campus”). After all, having a university which is known for partying, crime, and racism is bad for business. ASU is desperately attempting to revamp its public image so more parents feel safe sending their kids here, which equals more $$ for Crow and the rest of ASU’s administrators.
Michael Crow is acutely aware of the situation at ASUPD and is frantically trying to control the negative press and buzz generated by The Integrity Report. He has dispatched Kevin Salcido (head of ASU HR) to do a half-hearted “investigation” on assertions made on this blog. This investigation exists solely to minimize the university’s liability in the chance that ASUPD’s dirty laundry ever becomes public (ASU will assert that they had no knowledge of what was happening at the PD, and will blame Chief Pickens).
The true irony in Crow’s statement is that while ASU students are expected to adhere to a code of conduct, employees are rarely held accountable to their own code of conduct. This becomes obvious when a handful of employees (none of which have been reprimanded or fired) are the common denominator in virtually every problem at ASUPD. The larger issue then becomes a question of how much more negative press linked to ASUPD is Michael Crow willing to tolerate? Issues which were once only known within the confines of the department have now spread like wildfire throughout the law enforcement AND civilian community in Arizona–it is a matter of time before ASUPD’s problems also make national news.