Chula initiation rite descends into chaos

Chula initiation rite descends into chaos

Chulalongkorn University lecturer chokes out a student and drags him away as colleagues watch, during Thursday's chaotic initiation ceremony. (Photo FB/Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal)
Chulalongkorn University lecturer chokes out a student and drags him away as colleagues watch, during Thursday's chaotic initiation ceremony. (Photo FB/Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal)

The freshmen initiation ceremony at Chulalongkorn University descended into chaos and controversy when a group of students staged a walk out and one of them was put in a chokehold by a lecturer.

The event has students sitting on the ground and prostrating themselves to pay respect to the monument of the university's founder, King Rama V, and take an oath before the monument.

Student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who is president of Chulalongkorn University's Student Council and has campaigned against sitting on the ground and prostrating during the ceremony, posted on his Facebook page Thursday that a deputy university rector promised that the university would provide an area for students who did not want to sit on the ground.

The deputy rector also promised that students would be allowed to stand and pay respects if there was rain, according to Mr Netiwit.

But the lecturers broke these promises as all students were ordered to sit on the ground to pay their respects despite the fact that it was raining, he claimed, adding small plastic sheets were allocated to students, while lecturers had umbrellas to protect themselves.

"I could not stand that so my colleagues and I walked out. Then a lecturer came up to my friend and put him in a choke hold to scold to him. It's unbelievable," he wrote.

He said, personally, he was very grateful for King Rama V's vision for the country that brought about change and development. The King also abolished slavery.

"I'm confused why has the university that was named after King Rama V stepped backwards and adopted such outdated traditions, especially given the fact that prostration on the ground was not used at the university from the outset but was introduced 20 years ago," he said.

However, a student who attended the ceremony said during the event it began to rain slightly but lecturers did not use umbrellas as Mr Netiwit said.

He also said there was a TV news team standing nearby. "The protest was likely staged managed for the TV crew," he said.

Bancha Chalapirom, the university deputy rector, insisted the university did not force students to sit while it was raining. He said there was a slight drizzle and students agreed to carry with the ceremony and were given raincoats.

"There was no forcing people to sit or prostrate themselves either," he said.

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