An image showing security guards ordering a cleaner to wash away the words “Happy International Women’s Day” written on the steps of a building at Oxford University has sparked outrage online.
The image, which was tweeted by Dr Sophie Smith, an associate professor of political theory at Oxford University has been retweeted 10K times and liked by 12K.
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The photo shows a female cleaner using a mop to clean off the message, which had been written in chalk on the steps of the Clarendon Building at the university. Four male security staff members stand behind her.
The photo sparked a great deal of anger online, with some saying it had the makings of “one of those truly iconic images.”
One person said that the university, by erasing the message, was “suppressing freedom of expression.”
The university has since apologised for removing the message. “We are deeply sorry for this and for offence caused,” read a tweeted posted by Oxford University. ” International Women’s Day is hugely important to Oxford. This should not have happened.”
We are deeply sorry for this and for offence caused. International Women’s Day is hugely important to Oxford. This should not have happened.
— Oxford University (@UniofOxford) March 8, 2018
Smith, the original poster of the image, responded to the apology, stating that the woman who was told to erase the message should also receive a “heartfelt” apology, a “warm cup of tea,” the remainder of the day off, and “along with all our precarious staff, good enough pay to live in this city.”
I appreciate your apology, but far more importantly can you please make sure that the woman asked to remove the message receives a heartfelt apology, a warm cup of tea, the rest of the day off and, along with all our precarious staff, good enough pay to live in this city.
— Sophie Smith (@DrSophieSmith) March 8, 2018