Ursinus Board Chair under Fire for Tweets

POSTED BY MARTIN KICH

These are the lead paragraphs from an article written by Susan Snyder for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Tweets by the chairman of Ursinus College’s board of trustees have drawn ire from some students and at least one fellow board member, who called them ‘elitist, racist, sexist, body-shaming,’ and ‘generally intolerant,’ and resigned over them Sunday.

“The controversy at the small liberal arts school in Collegeville began last week after a student posted on Facebook the tweets by Michael C. Marcon, an insurance executive and 1986 Ursinus graduate. A four-page printout of the tweets also was circulated on campus.

“’Got to love a janitor with a “Ban Fracking Now” sticker on his bucket. Barack is clearly reaching his target demographic,’ said one of the tweets.

“’Yoga pants? Per my DTW visual survey, only 10 percent of users should be wearing them. The rest need to be in sweats–or actually get dressed,’ said another.

“A third, which was a retweet, referred to Caitlyn Jenner: ‘Bruce Jenner got 25 K for speaking engagements. Caitlyn gets $100K. What wage gap?’

“’The tweets that were sexist made me really uncomfortable,’ said Haley Brush, 21, an English major from Littleton, Colo., who posted some of them on Odyssey, a social content platform. ‘A lot of us are wondering if these tweets reflect how he currently feels. Comments like that are really inappropriate for someone in his position.’

“Marcon, chief executive president of Equity Risk Partners, said in a statement Monday night that ‘I am sorry for creating a situation that has led to frustration, confusion and disappointment. . . . More is expected of a trustee, and I resolve to live up to the college’s high standards.’

“He said he intended to speak to faculty and student leaders Wednesday and ‘will do whatever is necessary to restore the trust.’

“’Not only do I know how much frustration 140 characters can cause, but I’ve now been on the receiving end of many difficult online comments that are painful for my wife and children to read,’ he wrote.

“In an email to faculty, staff and students last week, he noted that the tweets in question were posted on his personal Twitter account before he became board chair July 1. He joined the board in 2010.

“He said he didn’t intend to offend anyone but understands how ‘a few posts can be interpreted differently and may have caused certain readers discomfort.’

“Marcon also wrote that he believes in ‘a free and lively exchange of ideas and that we should always challenge ourselves to understand different perspectives or just appreciate the banal observations of everyday life.’”

At least one student has noted that a student might face strong disciplinary action for the sort of tweets that Marcon wrote because they violate the university’s student code of conduct.

 

Susan Snyder’s complete article which is about three times the length of what I have quoted, is available at: http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20160906_Ursinus_College_controversy_erupts_over_board_chairman_s_tweets.html?nlid=9936851&.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Ursinus Board Chair under Fire for Tweets

  1. Actually, what’s most bothersome about these rather innocuous tweets is that a student thinks it would violate the campus code of conduct if a student wrote them. I certainly hope that’s not the case. It’s also disturbing that the Board member who resigned wrote, “this behavior goes against everything we at Ursinus and others teach long before college, which is, things said in social media can cost you jobs and before that admission to college or graduate school.” I certainly hope that things such as this said in social media would never cost anyone an academic job or admission to a university. If that’s what Ursinus is teaching students, then it needs to start changing its policies to protect academic freedom.

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