Faculty members at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania are a little peeved at their president, Marcia G. Welsh, for tweeting a picture of herself standing next to shirtless male students wearing Santa hats. Ms. Welsh was delivering holiday cookies to residence halls across campus, reports The Patriot-News, when she encountered the male students, who call themselves the “Hawthorn Hotties,” and took the photo.
And the ESU Hawthorn Hotties greeted us next! pic.twitter.com/QtJm6lrxyY
— PresidentWelsh (@PresidentWelsh) December 9, 2014
Some faculty members have assailed Ms. Welsh for a lack of sensitivity. “In this heightened era of appropriate sexual behavior on college campuses, faculty and administration cannot condone any kind of somewhat questionable behavior related to sexuality,” said Nancy VanArsdale, an English professor and head of the campus chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. “I’m sure President Welsh did not intend harm at all but I think the sensitivity could have been better displayed.”
Ms. Welsh did not pull any punches in her response to her critics, citing the charitable efforts of the “hotties,” among other things. “Our campus community is inspired by students who put forth a tremendous effort to raise funds for causes that are close to their hearts,” she said in an emailed statement to The Patriot-News. “The students who refer to themselves as the ‘Hawthorn Hotties’ were raising money for the American Cancer Society. To exploit the support of our students is not only an insult to them but a malicious disservice to the good work they do for our university and the community.”
A former president of the Student Senate, Justin Amann, told the newspaper that strained relations between East Stroudsburg’s faculty and administration are the undercurrent in the dispute. “The faculty is in constant attack mode,” he said.
Two tenured faculty members were told in October they would be laid off at the end of the academic year, a decision that drew the ire of Ms. VanArsdale and other faculty members.