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Tallahassee SDS stands against racist fraternity hazing

By Students for a Democratic Society |
February 25, 2016
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Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the Tallahassee chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

This week it was uncovered that the Lambda Iota chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity at Florida State University performs a racist hazing ritual called "Old South." This ritual requires potential members (pledges) to dress and act out stereotypes of enslaved African Americans while serving drinks to initiated members.

There were additional hazing activities, such as dropping pledges off in Thomasville, Georgia, 30 miles away from Tallahassee. With no GPS or access to cellphones, pledges have to find their way back on their own. The allegations came to light because a TKE brother reported the 2013 incident three years later, after he graduated.

Slavery is not a joke. According to the TKE fraternity’s Facebook page, which boasts Ronald Reagan as an alumnus, racism is a thing of the past. However, racism lives at FSU.

Racism built FSU. Francis Eppes was an early funder of FSU. He owned 91 enslaved African Americans and used funds from his slave-catching militia to establish the Tallahassee police department. His statue is displayed prominently at the FSU Westcott entrance, once called Gallows Hills, where African American people were lynched.

Today the Tallahassee branch of Students for a Democratic Society is leading the struggle to increase African American student enrollment at Florida State University. African American people built FSU but were excluded for so long. Now African American students deserve an admissions program to rectify the decades of systemic racism that FSU and Leon County have been a part of for so long.

Since 1999, African American student enrollment dropped more than 46%. This came after then-Governor Jeb Bush and current FSU President John Thrasher banned affirmative action. Thrasher’s own fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order, considers Confederate Army leader Robert E. Lee its "spiritual" founder. Can FSU students really expect him to successfully mitigate racial tensions? Thrasher himself has instituted racist policies while in the Florida legislature, such as ‘three strikes’ sentencing and minimum prison sentences.

It is the duty of every student to fight against racist discrimination. Whether it comes from racist fraternities or racist admissions, when African American students are under attack we must always fight back.