Early this morning, maintenance workers at Cleveland State University (CSU) washed away a chalk drawing which students made in tribute to the Americans who lost their lives on September 11.
The sidewalk art depicted a large American flag and the message “9-11-01 Never Forget.” The artwork was done by CSU Turning Point USA chapter members who gathered outside the student center the evening before.
The power washing took place at the request of the university’s Director of Maintenance, Shehadeh Abdelkarim, according Tiffany Roberts, CSU’s TPUSA chapter president.
According to Shehadeh Abdelkarim’s LinkedIn page, he is the President of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, in addition to working at the university’s Director of Maintenance. He has worked at the Islamic Center of Cleveland for over a decade, according to the News 5 Cleveland.
After confronting the maintenance worker who was power washing the chalk off the sidewalk, Roberts went to the Dean of Students’ office to get some answers. The Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs insisted that the dean had a “very heavy meeting cycle,” according to Roberts. When the students finally met with Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Ernest Yarbrough, they were told they needed permission before creating a memorial, despite the university being a public institution.
“I am extremely disheartened by this situation, as my members put a lot of hard work and time into the memorial and it is very disconcerting that the school would wash away something designed to honor the Americans who lost their lives on September 11th,” Roberts told Red Alert Politics.
William Dube, the Director of Communications and Media Relations at CSU, told Red Alert Politics that the memorial was taken down because students had not received permission to create it. The statement reads in full:
“Cleveland State University recognizes the importance and remembrance of September 11th and has lowered all flags on campus to half-staff to honor the memories of all who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attack as well as their loved ones.
“The university supports student groups who wish to post signage on campus to memorialize 9/11. However any and all signs must follow proper university policy, including receiving permission from Facilities Services, which did not happen in this example.”
And quite likely would have never happened if what happens on college campuses in the U.S. are any indicator. Had they asked for permission they would have been ignored, deterred, stalled, pushed to a back lot where it would never be seen, or outright rejected. Shame on CSU.