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Alabama’s Auburn University has indefinitely suspended 15 students who wore Ku Klux Klan costumes and blackface to fraternity Halloween parties. The school said the students violated its harassment and discrimination rules. They could face additional disciplinary action — including expulsion. “The continued presence of these students in the university community poses an immediate threat to the well-being of the university, and we’re taking that action,” Auburn President William Walker said. The suspended students include five from Delta Sigma Phi fraternity — one who wore blackface with a noose around his neck, another dressed as a policeman and three more who dressed as hunters. They appeared in a photo with a fraternity member dressed as a Klansman who was pointing a gun at the man in blackface. The school said the student dressed as a Klansman has dropped out of school. “They just did something stupid,” said Delta Sigma Phi President Matt Furin. “Everyone feels responsible and everyone wishes they could do things different.” The other 10 suspended students were members of Beta Theta Pi who wore blackface and afro wigs at a separate party. The two fraternities were previously expelled from campus by their national chapters. They both made public apologies. The university has also requested that local prosecutors conduct an investigation to determine whether any crimes were committed at the two parties, which occurred on Oct. 25 and Oct. 27. Auburn has created a task force to discuss opening a multicultural center on campus, and will expand course offerings on tolerance and diversity. Fewer than 10 percent of Auburn’s 22,000 students are black. “We’re going to redouble our efforts to diversify,” Walker said. “The level of cultural awareness on this campus is not nearly where it should be.” Separately, the University of Mississippi has suspended the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity for a year after an Internet photo showed one member dressed as a police officer holding a gun to another in blackface. The fraternity expelled both members. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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