Oxford University under fire after International Women's Day sign removal

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.

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 apologized for removing the message. "We are deeply sorry for this and for offense caused," read a tweeted posted by Oxford University. " International Women's Day is hugely important to Oxford. This should not have happened."

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." 

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International Women's Day across the world
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International Women's Day across the world
Thousands of people march down Gran Via street in Madrid, on March 8, 2018 during a one day strike to defend women's rights on International Women's Day. Spain celebrated International Women's Day today with an unprecedented general strike in defence of their rights that saw hundreds of trains cancelled and countless protests scheduled throughout the day. / AFP PHOTO / OSCAR DEL POZO (Photo credit should read OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES,CA - MARCH 08: On Long Beach Boulevard, at Imperial Highway, the only McDonald's franchise in the U.S., owned by Patricia Williams and her daughters, Kerri Harper-Howie and Nicole Enearu, shows their iconic McDonald's 'M' sign flipped upside down, in celebration of International Women's Day, in the Lynwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, March 08, 2018. (Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
ATHENS, GREECE - MARCH 08: Refugee women hold banners during a rally for International Women's Day on March 8, 2018 in Athens, Greece. Women around the world attended events, rallies, talks and networking events to highlight the work and achievements of women all over the world. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
Turkish women march during a protest rally marking International Women's Day in Istanbul, Turkey, 08 March 2018 (Photo by Emrah Oprukcu/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA MARCH 8, 2018: Feminists rally on International Women's Day. Peter Kovalev/TASS (Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images)
Women take selfies during a march through the streets of Managua to mark International Women's Day on March 8, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Inti OCON (Photo credit should read INTI OCON/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Maria Chiara de Bourbon des Deux Siciles and Princess Camilla of Bourbon Two Sicilies attend UNWFPA's NYSE bell ringing in celebration of International Women's Day at New York Stock Exchange on March 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
RABAT, MOROCCO - MARCH 08: Women take part in a protest on 'violence against women' regarding the International Women's Day in front of Parliament Building in Rabat, Morocco on March 08, 2018. (Photo by Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People march against violence and racism on International Womens Day in Athens, Greece on March 8, 2018. (Photo by Giorgos Georgiou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards as they gather during a one day strike to defend women's rights on International Women's Day in Pontevedra, Spain, on March 8, 2018. Spain celebrated International Women's Day today with an unprecedented general strike in defence of their rights that saw hundreds of trains cancelled and countless protests scheduled throughout the day. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez Rey/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A woman has a female sign painted on her face during a march marking International Women's Day on March 8, 2018 in Warsaw. / AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Turkish women march during a protest rally marking International Women's Day in Istanbul, Turkey, 08 March 2018 (Photo by Emrah Oprukcu/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Thousands of people march down Istanbul's famous Istiklal street during a rally for International Women's Day on March 8, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. Women around the world attended events, rallies, talks and networking events to highlight the work and achievements of women all over the world. This years theme is Press For Progress. International Women's Day was first marked in 1911. (Photo by Emrah Oprukcu/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
March 8th, Brussels. Several organizations called today for a demonstration on March 8 to celebrate International Women''s Day and demand respect for the rights of women. Many women today broke her silence to denounce the harassment and violence against them. It is not only a revolt against sexual abuse, but also against the institutionalized sexism in the hierarchical relations of the professional world. The march started at the ULB "Universite Libre de Bruxelles" and ended at the Brussels Central Station, where hundreds of women and men from another organizations gathered. (Photo by Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Thousands of people march down Alcala street in Madrid, on March 8, 2018 during a one day strike to defend women's rights on International Women's Day. Spain celebrated International Women's Day today with an unprecedented general strike in defence of their rights that saw hundreds of trains cancelled and countless protests scheduled throughout the day. / AFP PHOTO / OSCAR DEL POZO (Photo credit should read OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GREECE - MARCH 08: Women hold banners during a rally for International Women's Day on March 8, 2018 in Athens, Greece. Women around the world attended events, rallies, talks and networking events to highlight the work and achievements of women all over the world. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
Thousands of people march down Alcala street in Madrid, on March 8, 2018 during a one day strike to defend women's rights on International Women's Day. Spain celebrated International Women's Day today with an unprecedented general strike in defence of their rights that saw hundreds of trains cancelled and countless protests scheduled throughout the day. / AFP PHOTO / OSCAR DEL POZO (Photo credit should read OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
Women shouting angry slogans during the International Women's Day in Madrid on 8th March, 2018. Women demand equal working rights and an end to violence against women in Spanish society. Spain celebrates International Women's Day today with an unprecedented general strike in defence of their rights that will see hundreds of trains cancelled and countless protests scheduled throughout the day. (Photo by Isa Saiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The 'Manifa' march participant holding banner that speaks Me too (#metoo, metoo) is seen in Gdansk, Poland on 8 March 2018 The march participants celebrate International Women's Day - a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Protesters demand woman rights, respect, and free choice of abortion. (Photo by Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Refugees hold placards as they take part in a march marking International Women's Day in Athens on March 8, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES,CA - MARCH 08: Owners Patricia Williams, center and her daughters, Kerri Harper-Howie, left and Nicole Enearu, pose for a portrait in front of their upside down, iconic, McDonald's 'M,' the only McDonald's franchise in the U.S. to do so, in celebration of International Women's Day, in the Lynwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, March 08, 2018. The three own 18 McDonald's franchises in the L.A. area. (Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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