Northampton University Professor under Attack for Crowd Surfing at Sports Awards PartyBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
A 53-year-old University of Northampton vice-chancellor is under fire for his unprofessional behavior at a student's sports awards evening, March 20.
Professor Nick Petford, who earns more than $330,000 (£200,000) annually, was pictured drinking, crowd-surfing and competing in a dance off at the student union's Stallions Sports Awards at the Northampton Saints Rugby Club.
Petford's drunken behavior has earned him the moniker, 'Wolf of Northampton,' made in reference to the wasted lifestyle of 'Jordan Belfort' portrayed in the recent Martin Scorsese hit film 'The Wolf of Wall Street.'
The professor was among several senior staff members who gave away awards to undergraduates. Later, Petford was seen drinking wine, participating in a dance competition with staff and spotted crowd-surfing across the room.
Once the images appeared online, calls for disciplinary actions against the professor grew stronger.
In an open letter, the Northampton branch of the University College Union (UCU) found the professor's 'laddish behavior disturbing and irresponsible.' The letter claims that this kind of an act by a senior member puts Northampton's reputation at risk and all the hard work that is invested in creating a friendly and inclusive environment at the University gets washed away.
"Those of us engaged as personal tutors have dealt with incidents of racial bullying in halls by lads returning late from bars and the academic literature is littered with research showing direct correlations between fraternity style student drinking cultures and complaints of sexual assault," the letter said, Times Higher Education reports.
One of the students who was present at the party said that Petford was having a fun time. He was drinking Jagerbombs and buying shots for the students. Although some students found it amusing, certain others felt uncomfortable with his antics.
"There are certain rules I imagine they must abide by when engaging with students and I'm not sure crowd-surfing is one of them. I couldn't believe it when he was carried across the room. It's a pretty rock 'n' roll thing to do for a man of his age," the student said, Telegraph UK reports.
Others began defending the professor's actions on Twitter:
Jason McCrossan, a presenter on 106.9 SFM in Sittingbourne, tweeted saying, "I think #northampton University & College Union needs to chill & get over their sorry selves."
Another Twitter user, Will Darby said, "All this stuff about @nick_petford is pathetic... Quality guy and class at his job, all that should matter."