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ADL Outraged by Reports of Bigotry and Prejudice at Three Colleges; Says It Highlights The Need for Anti-Bias Education, Applauds Actions of Auburn University President

 New York, N.Y., November 16, 2001 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said it was outraged by reports of fraternities at the University of Mississippi, Auburn University and the University of Louisville hosting Halloween theme parties that featured members dressing in full Ku Klux Klan regalia and blackening their faces to simulate mock lynchings.

"While we applaud the actions of the presidents of these schools, particularly the actions of Auburn University president William Walker, these outrageous displays of prejudice are very disturbing," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "These incidents highlight the need for the higher education community to use all available anti-bias resources to fight this type of hatred in order to begin the healing process on campus."

Reaction to the incidents varied by campus. At Auburn University, in Alabama, President Walker indefinitely suspended 15 students who allegedly attended two separate Halloween parties, one hosted by Beta Theta Pi and the other by Delta Sigma Pi. Additional measures taken by the University include:

  • disbanding both fraternities and revoking their campus charters
  • the formation of a taskforce that ultimately seeks to establish a multicultural center on campus
  • instructing the provost's office to expand course offerings on tolerance and diversity in Auburn's curricula, possibly concentrating on mandatory courses in the core curriculum

At the University of Mississippi, Chancellor Robert Khayat suspended the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity for participating in a similar Halloween party, from which a photograph was circulated depicting one member dressed as a white policeman holding a gun on another member in blackface kneeling and pretending to pick cotton. The suspension prohibits the group from meeting or conducting social activities until November 2002 and shuts the campus fraternity house at the end of the fall 2001 semester. A public apology was issued by the fraternity in the campus newspaper and all campus fraternities and sororities will undergo sensitivity training.

The University of Louisville's Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity faced similar punishment upon the discovery by university officials of a similar party and photographs being circulated. The fraternity publicly apologized to the Louisville community and further punishments are pending on an investigation.

Three ADL Regional offices reached out to the affected campuses and provided its newly published Responding to Bigotry and Intergroup Strife on Campus: Guide for College and University Administrators. The guide was sent to 2,000 campuses nationwide this past September and offers direction and first-hand advice to administrators who are faced with fighting hatred on their campus. To view a copy, please go to

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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2001 Anti-Defamation League