*Story was updated on Monday, March 14 at 7:02 p.m.
In an era of amplified attention towards political correctness, it is increasingly notable when a large organization – campus Greek life in particular – slips up. An unfortunate incident occurred on Sunday, March 13 when the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s chapter of the Chi Omega women’s fraternity “mistakenly approved” the use of offensive imagery for a charity function T-shirt.
The symbol, known as the “Reichsadler” has been a symbol of the German government since the Holy Roman Empire, which existed from approximately the 13th to 19th centuries. The version used in the design was a stylized eagle, specifically attributed to the Third Reich – the period of German history in which Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party was in control.
The mishap occurred after Chi Omega submitted a preliminary design to national custom shirt vendor Big Frog. The original design featured an eagle design with noticeably rounder shoulders and significantly different detailing, but during the design process the vendor mistakenly converted the eagle image to the Reichsadler.
After noticing the error, Chi Omega immediately retracted their published design, and replaced it with the same logo, sans-eagle.
Executive Director for Chi Omega’s national headquarters Leslie Herington offered the following public statement in response to the fiasco:
“Chi Omega’s Executive Headquarters is aware of an inappropriate t-shirt design intended for our chapter at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The chapter leadership has assured us that they mistakenly approved the order, not realizing one of the design elements had been adjusted by the vendor and unintentionally included the offensive and dangerous symbolism. Once our chapter leadership realized the error, the design was corrected immediately. Chi Omega and its Zeta Delta chapter sincerely apologize for any harm or offense this unfortunate decision may have caused.”
Nicole McMahon, an owner of the company, apologized for the mistake and asserted that the employee was unaware of the connotations surrounding the image.
“As a family owned business, we certainly would never produce anything that would distribute or condone hateful views,” McMahon said. “As soon as it was brought to our attention changes were made on our end.”
Chi Omega’s “Wish Week,” a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, is traditionally held every spring semester. In 2015, UNO’s Chi Omega chapter raised over $8,000 for Make-A-Wish according to the sorority’s website.