The president of the University of Northampton Students’ Union has defended the vice-chancellor and senior staff after they were accused of ‘laddish behaviour’ at a recent sports awards evening.
Senior managers at the university, including vice chancellor Nick Petford, have been accused of bringing the institution into “disrepute” by the University College Union (UCU) after he crowdsurfed across a room at an event for students at Franklin’s Gardens on Thursday, March 20.
But the president of the University of Northampton Students’ Union said it was “fantastic” that senior members of staff joined in the celebration of success and a spokesman for the university said they had a “fantastic partnership” with the student union.
About 420 students attended the sports the event which featured a three-course dinner and comedy from Lee Nelson. Professor Petford was among a number of senior staff who handed out awards in a number of different categories. The Chron understands that the comedian instigated the crowd-surfing and other events including a drinking challenge during the evening.
In an open letter, the Northampton branch of the UCU, which is currently in dispute with the university over a pay and pensions deal, criticised what they described as the “laddish” behaviour of senior staff.
“The University of Northampton claims to embrace equality and value the diversity of its student body, yet behaviour of this type by senior managers undermines the hard work that the majority of staff and students at the university put in to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment,” it said.
“Some staff and students, especially those with particular religious or cultural beliefs or with direct experiences as victims, will be deeply offended by behaviour which promotes a laddish culture at the expense of Northampton’s reputation.
“We are deeply concerned about the disrepute this sort of irresponsible behaviour by our senior managers brings to an institution we work hard to support and promote, and call on the governors to address this behaviour so that we - and our students - can continue to be justly proud to be part of the University of Northampton.”
But Haviour Chen, President of the University of Northampton Students’ Union, in response to the UCU Northampton Branch’s open letter, said it was “fantastic” that members of staff and the vice-chancellor attended the sports awards.
She said: “We have a responsible drinking policy across the university and we are immensely proud of the diverse student body here at The University of Northampton. It is fantastic that members of staff and our Vice Chancellor join us to celebrate successes as they did at the sports Awards.”
A spokeswoman for the University of Northampton also said the university had a “fantastic partnership with the Student Union”.
She said: “The Vice Chancellor attended the Sport Awards ceremony last month, at an off-site venue to join the student body in celebrating their success.”