A university vice chancellor has been accused of bringing his profession into disrepute after he was pictured necking shots and CROWD-SURFING at a boozy student awards bash.
Professor Nick Petford, who earns over £200,000 a year in his role at the University of Northampton, was seen drinking heavily and having a DANCE OFF with students.
He has since been dubbed the “Wolf of Northampton” – a reference to Martin Scorcese’s hit film ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ following his boozy antics.
The 53-year-old had been attending the student union’s Stallions Sports Awards held at Northampton Saints Rugby Club on March 20.
Professor Petford was among a number of senior staff who handed out awards to undergraduates in a number of different categories.
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After a three course meal comedian Lee Nelson entertained the crowd of 400 people where he encouraged Mr Petford and Jane Bunce, the university’s Director of Student and Academic Services, to neck glasses of wine.
He then had a dance competition with staff before being caught on camera crowd-surfing across a sea of students who passed them over their heads on the dance-floor.
But after images emerged of his boozy behaviour on social media sites a student body has now called on action to be taken against the vice-chancellor.
The Northampton branch of the The University College Union (UCU) said his “irresponsible” actions “promoted a laddish culture at the expense of Northampton’s reputation.”
One student who attended the event said Mr Petford was left looking a little worse for wear, after the heavy drinking session which went on into the early hours of the morning.
He said: “He was buying shots for the students and joining in with the Jagerbombs – he was well up for it and having a great time.
“Most of us thought it was a bit of fun but you could tell some people were uncomfortable with his behaviour considering he is so senior.
“There’s 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. Its a pretty rock ‘n’ roll thing to do for a man of his age.”
Pictures have since been posted on Twitter of the VC being passed over the heads of students and the hash tag wolfofnorthampton was trending yesterday.
James Cooper wrote: “Obviously had to follow @nick_petford after last nights performance #LAD #WolfOfNorthampton”
Professor Petford joked that it was his “twin bro”.
Another student in attendance was Kurt Spence who posted a selfie with Mr Petford and added: “Me n my boy @nick_petford the real TOP BOY at @UniNorthants #topboys #sportsawards.”
However others were not too complimentary with Mark Berfeld tweeting: “Vice-Chancellor on 200k acts like the Wolf of Wall Street #wolfofnorthampton #disgrace.”
Yesterday in a statement the UCU said: “The box office hit The Wolf of Wall Street depicts morally corrupt Jordan Belfort enjoying a booze-fuelled, hedonistic lifestyle financed by corruption and criminality.
“To many of the students and staff at the University of Northampton it was disturbing, although perhaps not surprising, when some students adopted the hashtag #WolfOfNorthampton to describe the behaviour of their VC Nick Petford after he indulged in his own apparently booze-fuelled antics, competing in a dance-off with the Director of Student and Academic Services
“Martin Scorsese’s film was criticised for failing to highlight the suffering endured by the victims of Belfort’s corruption.
“Similarly some may think laddish behaviour nothing more than harmless high-jinx, worthy of the hashtag #lad adopted by other student revellers.
“However, such behaviour is not victimless.
“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 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.
“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.”
A spokeswoman for the University of Northampton, said: “The Vice Chancellor attended the Sport Awards ceremony, last month, at an offsite venue to join the student body in celebrating their success.”
Professor Petford was previously Pro-Vice Chancellor at Bournemouth University and before that Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Kingston University.
He has also worked for BP and on academic and commercial research projects across the world.
He is currently believed to be in Hong Kong for a graduation ceremony and conference and was yesterday unavailable for comment.