Self-restraint over rules and regulations
Rangsit University recently experienced a tragedy that resulted in the death of a student, along with a few other casualties. The students were on their way home from a night out at a local watering hole near campus when they were attacked.
Three culprits have been apprehended and have confessed that they mistook the students for another set of students, who they thought were trying to steal their girls.
My heart goes out to the victims and their friends and families. I can't even begin to fathom the grief, pain and anger that they must be feeling right now. And for the student whose life was cut short, may he forever rest in peace.
What I'm about to say, however, doesn't take away from the incident. It doesn't excuse killers, nor belittle any memories.
Last week, while the tragedy was still fresh like an open wound, a group of students staged a peaceful protest demanding that the authorities ban pubs and bars around the campus and prohibit watering holes to be located near universities. They reasoned that entertainment venues that serve alcohol in the proximity of schools are the main reason for such violence. "How many more dead bodies will we see before someone does something about it?" they asked.
This surreal reaction is rather problematic, although I can see why the students have stood their ground and presented their argument as such. As Thais, we're moulded, without knowing, to be reactionary and a tad dramatic — maybe it can be traced back to melodrama TV series or the political instability we have had to endure.
We also have a tendency to ignore the root of the problem and go straight to the quickest fix without realising that everything has retribution. So, in the minds of students, all the bad stuff happened because the victims and killers were having a good time, I suspect. To them, the best way to prevent anything bad from happening is to ban bars near campuses.
Isn't it a bit naive of them to believe this? Or are they following an example of conservative self-righteousness? Going to a bar and consuming alcohol didn't harm the students. It was violence, substance mishandling, misguided youth, lagging gun control policy and the lack of public safety that took away a precious life.
Shutting down drinking venues will not end violence and vices. It's true that school is a place of learning and these venues are distractions, but aren't our young adults supposed to be able to make that decision for themselves? At the college level, I sure hope they do. If not, isn't it their parents' job to police them?
One of the schools that I went to outside of Thailand had a student union that served alcoholic beverages. If I remember correctly, Oxford and Cambridge also have campus bars. Yes, there were times where I cut too many classes to enjoy too many drinks at the campus bar, but I also made many new friends and had intellectually-stimulating conversations.
I believe that the logic behind such a bar is that it's safer for students to drink on campus and certainly cheaper; not to mention how the school can benefit from a little extra cash. I'm not suggesting that Thailand should suddenly adopt this on-campus tradition, because as a nation in denial we still can't buy condoms at convenient stores without getting funny looks.
The solution could be for proper education on alcohol consumption, a strict ID system and encouragement on moderation and responsibility, as well as providing a safe environment. It is disturbing to see such young minds trotting down the path of regulations, rather than self-restraint or campaigning to raise awareness against violence.
I've learned from experience that if one wants to drink, one will find a way to drink. They can always venture a bit further than their usual haunts near universities, visit the abundance of 7-Eleven stores or use private quarters as drinking dens. Also speaking from experience, when people gather in the privacy of their own homes, they get up to much worse.
Danger lurks everywhere, with or without bars, pubs and clubs. It's best to advise our youth to stay far away from trouble and prompt the state to exercise and implement the right amount of legal protection with a stress on weapon control.
Onsiri Pravattiyagul writes about music and popular culture for Life.