On Monday, Auburn officials temporarily suspended student chapters of Beta Theta Pi and Delta Sigma Phi, two predominately white fraternities, after the discovery of controversial images of several of the groups' members on the Web site http://www.partypics.com.
The photos, which were taken at two Halloween parties sponsored by the fraternities, showed white students from the fraternities in blackface and wearing Ku Klux Klansman robes.
In one photo, a student was shown wearing blackface with a noose around his neck while another, cloaked in a Klansman robe, stood by.
In another photo, students were shown in blackface and wearing shirts bearing the Greek letters of Omega Psi Phi, a traditionally black fraternity.
Omega Psi Phi members were notified of the offensive photos last weekend and copied the images onto their university-sponsored Web site before they could be taken off the Web.
Fraternity members then showed the photos to Auburn administrators, who suspended the fraternities pending a full investigation into whether the photos might have violated Auburn's anti-harassment and discrimination policies.
Monday night, Delta Sigma Phi expelled two members and suspended four others in connection with the photos. As of Wednesday, Beta Theta Pi had not taken any disciplinary actions against any of its members.
The decisions to punish those students involved with the Halloween incidents is commendable and definitely appropriate.
Still, one must question what would have provoked the students to think that their costumes and behavior were appropriate.