(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A local sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha, at Missouri Western State University is sparking controversy after posting a picture that appears to poke fun at the COVID-19 pandemic.
The picture has since been taken off the chapter's social media, but showed the group of sisters posing with masks as a prop.
Since the picture was posted, it has circled around social media and gained attention from the university. Campus staff said the picture was taken before classes began and before masks were mandated, but said regardless, the picture itself was a mistake.
MWSU releasing a statement online saying:
"Recently, some photos have circulated on social media of Missouri Western students who were not social distancing or wearing masks. Specific incidents are being investigated and those found in violation of University policies will be subject to disciplinary action. We would like to remind our entire campus community how critically important it is to follow all of the University's COVID-19 guidelines. We take the health and wellbeing of our campus community seriously. Please help us protect your fellow Griffons."
MWSU's assistant director of Marketing and Communications, Kent Heier, addressed the incident.
“This picture was a mistake and I think the student organization recognized it was a mistake. We are an educational institution and so this is an educational moment. Not only for this sorority, but for our student body. We want to make sure that we are modeling correct behavior and doing everything we can to stop the spread of this disease,” said Heier.
The Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority released a written apology on their twitter saying:
"We want to publicly apologize for the photo that is being posted. It was taken before masks were mandated on campus, but it is not following social distancing guidelines. Time are changing and we are learning. Actions are being taken to continuously educate members and our community of how to follow proper CDC COVID-19 social distancing guidelines in order to flatten the curve. We need to be activists in the fight against COVID-19 and we will continue to work on this from here."
The university can't say what specific actions are being taken, but said the picture is being investigated.