Samford University Apologizes Over Sorority’s T-Shirt With Racist Imagery

An Alabama university has issued an apology after one of its sororities printed T-shirts with racist connotations that “repulsed” the school’s president.

The shirts were designed for the Alpha Delta Pi formal last month at Samford University in suburban Birmingham and depict a map of the state of Alabama containing several scenes — including a black man eating watermelon and a slave picking cotton. University officials said they rejected the design, but the shirts were produced anyway.

“Samford University apologizes for the offensive image that appeared on T-shirts,” the school said in a statement Friday. “This is completely inconsistent with the university’s mission and values. We are addressing the issue with our Alpha Delta Pi chapter and the international organization and with the vendor who produced the shirt.”

The sorority also apologized, and the chapter president told NBC affiliate WVTMthe sorority is “horrified” by the oversight.

“In selecting the T-shirt, we failed to focus on the specific images in the design,” Lauren Hammond said. “Had we recognized what the design details depicted, we would never have purchased the shirts.”

She added that once the mistake was realized, the sorority’s members were asked not to wear the shirt anymore and that the clothing would be destroyed.

Stacy Bruton, international president of Alpha Delta Pi, added that the design “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. This situation highlights for all our chapters the importance of attention to detail,” she said.

In an email to students and staff, Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said he was “repulsed” when he saw the shirt.

“Let me add this personal word to our employees and students of color, in the hope that you can know of my personal embarrassment. I was repulsed by the image. I lack the words to express my own sense of frustration,” he wrote Friday.

Samford is a private university with an enrollment of just over 5,200 students, the majority classified as white. It’s located in Homewood, a Birmingham suburb.

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