Penn State white out shirt draws some criticism
November 3, 2009
A recent T-shirt design released for Penn State University’s annual White Out game is creating some religious controversy, as some say it resembles a Christian cross.
The university has received six complaints about the design so far, including one from the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that opposes anti-Semitism.
The white T-shirt features a navy blue stripe running down the center on the front and the back. It is intersected by the words “Penn State” on the front and “Don’t be intimidated … It’s just me and 110,000 of my friends,” on the back.
“At first glance, you don’t necessarily think that’s what it looks like, but when you look at it more, it does look like a cross,” Penn State junior Michal Berns told Foxnews.com. “That’s the reason I didn’t purchase it.”
Berns is president of Penn State’s Hillel chapter, and told the news agency that members of the group will show their school pride differently for the White Out game.
“There always has to be some sort of separation [ between a publicly funded university and religion],” Berns said. “Me personally, I’m not going to buy the shirts and I know others at [Penn State Hillel] who won’t, either.”
Students and supporters of Penn State football have already purchased approximately 30,000 shirts this season.
“Six complaints is not a controversy,” Bill Mahon, vice president of university affairs at Penn State told Foxnews.com. “Students submit shirt designs to the student paper each year. Students then vote for their favorite design and they are sold in the campus bookstore.”
According to the shirt’s designer, Penn State senior Stephanie Bennis, the shirt was not designed with a religious symbol in mind. The design was supposed to mimic the navy stripe that splits the all-white Nittany Lion’s helmet in half.
“That was the entire idea,” Bennis told Foxnews.com. “And all we thought was, normally, wording goes right across the chest. That’s truly the reason why we did it … It’s just sad to see that in this day and age, the most offensive thing on a shirt can be what people see as a religious symbol.”
Many feel as though the issue has been blown out of proportion.
“Honestly, I think it’s basically people just trying to stir up controversy over something that’s ridiculous,” senior Nick Mangus told Foxnews.com. “If you don’t want to buy it, don’t buy it. It’s that simple. You don’t have to try and force everyone else to change their ways because you think it’s offensive.”