Bangkok – Anti-hazing group at Mahasarakham University plan further campaigns after their anti-hazing clip posted on YouTube attracted over 150,000 views while the MSU President condemns these students for “too much study in human rights classes”.
When the Nightmare of Hazing is Spotlighted.
A YouTube video showing an anti-freshman hazing protest at Maha Sarakham University (MSU) has sparked a social network and internet discussion.
The video was taken on June 5, 2011, during the final day of freshman orientation or the hazing ritual at Maha Sarakham University (MSU) in Maha Sarakham Province about 475 km (294 miles) northeast of Bangkok. It has become popular overnight among Thai netizens, attracting over 150,000 views.
The video, uploaded on June 6, is entitled “Rab Nong Mor Mor Sor” (MSU Freshman Orientation). It shows senior students trying to stop the cameraman from video-recording a few freshmen fainting during the ritual.
Dozens of student activists then run in front of and onto the stage, holding up anti-hazing placards in attempt to protest the ritual conducted by hundreds of senior students and attended by thousands of freshman students.
“You are protesting against the staff, you are defying our authority,” says a senior student leader on the stage, dissatisfied with anti-hazing group. “Get out! You are ruining the spirit which has been our heritage for more than 40 years. Aren’t you proud of this university? You’d better find a new university.”
The seniors’ attempt to bar the anti-hazing activists was eventually successful. In scenes of confusion, the shout of “Get Out, Get Out, Get Out” from senior students can be heard on the video as seniors try to force the activists from the stage.
Their attempt to protest the ritual might have failed at the first round. However, this 7-minute video was posted on Internet forums like Pantip.com, Mthai.com, Drama-Addict.com and disseminated on social networks like Facebook.
[Caption] These frames from a YouTube video show dozens of student activists at Maha Sarakham University, Maha Sarakham Province, Thailand during their anti-freshmen hazing protest on June 5, 2011. (TheNickacid/YouTube.com)
MSU President condemns the anti-hazing group as “too knowledgeable”.
According to anti-hazing activist Yuttana Loonsamrong, a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in political science at MSU who spoke to Prachatai on June 9, his group wanted to get onto the stage where the head of the hazing staff was stationed to make an anti-hazing statement.
Yuttana’s attempt to communicate his message to the students at large failed after his group was barred by senior students. The video shows some of them held and surrounded by hazing staff.
A senior student acting as an intermediary then negotiated between pro- and anti-hazing activists. Finally, the anti-hazing group were allowed to present their statement and demand to Asst. Prof. Sujin Butdisuwan, MSU Vice President for Student Affairs.
However, Prof. Supachai Samappito, Maha Sarakham University President, disagreed with the anti-hazing activists.
In an interview with ASTV Manager on June 10, 2011 he claimed that the ritual would make freshman students love the university, teach them to sing the university songs and make them committed to the university. He also claimed that the university authorities always watch over the ritual.
“It is usual for a few freshmen to faint because there are a large number of students during the ritual.” said Supachai. “In the video, the seniors were dressed in military-type trousers so they looked a bit dictatorial but there was nothing in it.”
“They [anti-hazing students] are too knowledgeable. They have been studying human rights too much so they called for a protest. Some master’s degree students infiltrated this group. I’m not sure if they might want to create the conditions to hold some seminar.”
Supachai accepted that a senior student shown in the video was not mature enough and said some things that were improper. “That was a sudden situation,” said Supachai, “there will be some discussion with him”.
The MSU President also confirmed that it was not necessary for the university to hold a press conference after the video was disseminated.
“There are a lot of nice video clips [about the freshman orientation at MSU] people should see.” said Supachai.
“No student has complained about this ritual before. If students complain about [the hazing], Thailand will be in a terrible way. This is just a cultural inheritance from seniors to freshmen,” said Supachai.
Decades of tragedy but the time for fear is running out.
Freshman orientation is usually held at Thai universities in the first week or month of the academic year. There is also hazing and fagging during orientation week or month.
The issues of hazing practices on campus are repeatedly discussed in Thailand. Each year Thai society faces countless cases of human rights abuse ending in the tragedy of either death or serious injury.
Yuttana still plans to launch further campaigns on campus and seek more supporters. “I always believe that what we have done will wake students up. At least they would wonder why there are many students who disagree with hazing.”
“No more fear, the time for fear is running out,” said Yuttana.