Thai students call for end of abuse of rights during hazing rituals

A network of Thai university students has submitted a statement to the Education Ministry to call for an end to hierarchy and the abuse of human rights during university hazing rituals.

Students from the Network for Hazing Reform for Human Rights on Monday, 3 August 2015, submitted a statement to the Ministry of Education to state the group’s stand against the notorious SOTUS system found in many of Thailand’s universities.

SOTUS (Seniority, Order, Tradition, Unity, and Spirit) is a common set of values among many of Thailand’s tertiary education institutions, where junior students are expected to respect older students and are subjected to harassment by their seniors, especially during university hazing rituals.

Students from the Network for Hazing Reform for Human Rights hand in the group’s statement to an official of the Education Ministry on 3 August 2015

According to Chawit Worasan, a representative of the network, the SOTUS system allows senior students to enforce authoritarian values upon newcomers, which leads to physical and psychological abuses.

“The hazing rituals plant authoritarian ideas where senior students issue orders and punish [junior students] without reason. This value contradicts modern education which emphasises critical thinking, questioning, and logic,” wrote the group statement.

The statement added “authoritarian values imposed through the SOTUS system not only leave traces of physical abuse, but psychological wounds among the nation’s youth, which continue to affect Thai society.”

The group laid out five principles to replace the SOTUS system: non-violence, freedom, responsibility, equality and transparency, and urged all universities in Thailand and the Education Ministry to play leading roles in getting rid of the SOTUS values.

On the same day, Patawee Chotanan, a lecturer at the Political Science Faculty of Ubon Ratchathani University in Thailand’s Northeast established a centre for accepting complaints about abuses during hazing rituals at the university.

Earlier on Sunday, 2 August 2015, he posted a statement on his Facebook profile that students should not respect those who force other students to do things and that respect for individuals should be earned by their actions and thoughts rather than the status of being seniors.

“Acceptance of the SOTUS system, which limits human rights, shows ignorance towards the protection of one’s rights,” Patawee wrote.