Oxford University Issues Public Apology After Photo of Female Custodian Cleaning Campus Goes Viral

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Oxford University has issued a public apology after a photo of a female custodian cleaning the campus on International Women’s Day went viral on social media.

Oxford University political theory professor Sophie Smith published a tweet on Thursday with a photo of a female custodian erasing a “Happy International Women’s Day” chalk writing on the Clarendon steps on Oxford’s campus.

“Oxford security makes a woman cleaner scrub out “Happy International Women’s Day” on the Clarendon steps. What an image for [International Women’s Day], @UniofOxford,” Dr. Smith wrote. 

The university swiftly issued an apology via a tweet response. “We are deeply sorry for this and for offence caused. International Women’s Day is hugely important to Oxford. This should not have happened,” the official Oxford University Twitter account wrote. 

Smith fired back, demanding that the custodian receive the rest of the day off and a “warm cup of tea.”

“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,” Smith tweeted.

Smith’s conspiratorial assumption that this was some intentional backlash against International Women’s Day should be challenged. Most universities have some form of chalking policy that requires students to receive approval from the administration before taking to the campus ground with their message. The casual “Happy International Women’s Day” message was likely not put before the administration for approval.

A similar incident occurred at Bucknell University in April 2017. Progressive students claimed that the administration was engaging in “censorship” after they erased chalk messages on the main campus quad that did not receive approval from the university’s events management office.

Fortunately, Oxford doesn’t face issues of female representation. For the first time this year, the University of Oxford offered more undergraduate places to women than men.

A total of 1,070 18-year-old female UK applicants to Oxford took places on undergraduate course in autumn 2017, compared with 1,025 men of the same age. Women won more offers and places after applying in record numbers.

In the United States, females are vastly outpacing males with regards to education. There are more females than males enrolled in medical school, law school, and doctoral programs. There are 135 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men.

Because males are left to fill dangerous and less desirable physical labor jobs, gender equality in education means more females and fewer males in higher education.

Perhaps it’s time that feminists acknowledge this significant evolution in academia. Women are no longer second-class figures on college campuses.


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