Samford University apologized publicly on Friday after discovering offensive t-shirts had been printed by Alpha Delta Pi sorority, which said members initially failed to notice the racist illustration.
The t-shirts depicted a map of Alabama marked with many images – including an image of a black man holding a slice of watermelon to his mouth in the map’s southeast corner.Reuters/Facebook.
“I was repulsed by the image,” Samford University President, Andy Westmoreland, said in an email to students and employees. “I lack the words to express my own sense of frustration.”
Philip Poole, a university spokesman, said that the shirts were ordered as keepsakes for the spring former of the Alpha Delta Pi chapter at the school.
“In selecting the t-shirt, we failed to focus on the specific images in the design,” Lauren Hammond, president of the sorority’s Samford chapter, said in a statement issued through Alpha Delta Pi’s national headquarters on Friday.
Administrators are currently conducting a review that could result in disciplinary action against the sorority chapter at Samford University. The embarrassing disclosure came as students and faculty were celebrating graduations at the Birmingham campus on Friday.
Hammond instructed sorority members to not wear the shirts. She also said that they were being collected so that they could be destroyed.
Karina Shaver, the media representative for Alpha Delta Pi, said that chapter members found the map originally using a Google search.
Samford officials said that the sorority ordered the offensive t-shirts even after the design had been rejected when it was submitted to the university for approval.
“The shirt designs absolutely contradicts the values of respect and dignity that our organization prides itself on. We do not tolerate, and would never intentionally approve any design with racial stereotypes/overtones or any other offensive images or language.”