Statement from Nobel Prize laureates to Chulalongkorn University

Dear Professor Bundhit Eua-arporn, Ph.D. President of Chulalongkorn University; Professor Thongtong Jansrangsu, President of the appeal committee of Chulalongkorn University and the board of the appeal committee.
 
We, Nobel laureates, educators, scientists, academics and human rights activists, have been informed about the event in which 8 Chulalongkorn University students walked out of an annual Oath of Allegiance ceremony. 
 
We see that culture is important but also that freedom of expression within a learning institution is equally important. The process of education and positive social change must have space to experiment and grow. It is regrettable that these 8 students have had their behavioral scores deducted, preventing these students from participating in many activities within Chulalongkorn University, which diminishes liberty. 
 
We believe that there must be a better solution, a solution that includes open discussion for better understanding between different viewpoints. The use of punishment, not only begets animosity, but also effects the University’s reputation as an academic institution.
 
We would like the Board of Appeal to consider our suggestion. 
 
 
student activists in the walkout from the university initiation ceremony (photo from Netiwit’s Facebook account)
 
Signers;
 
"Those students behaved honorably.  The University officials acted dishonorably.  Any genuine University should support such students."
1. Dudley Herschbach  Emeritus Professor, Harvard University  (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986)
"All voices should be heard without facing the risk of imprisonment. Only then can University students fulfill their mission of becoming educated and prepare for their future role in society."
2. Sir Richard J. Roberts, New England Biolabs (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993)
"Punishing people for expressing their opinions diminishes the reputation of the organization, and enhances the reputation of those punished" 
3. John Mather, University of Maryland (Nobel Prize in Physics, 2006)
"There is no excuse for punishing freedom of thought." 
4.Roy Glauber, Harvard University (Nobel Prize in Physics, 2005)
"A university that punishes students for their opinions rather than providing opportunities for open discussion is abdicating its educational responsibilities and restricting the freedom of thought, which is contrary to the mission of any highly regarded university. "
5. Jerome Isaac Friedman, MIT (Nobel Prize in Physics, 2000)
6.Sheldon Lee Glashow, Boston University (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1979)
7.Brian Josephson, University of Cambridge  (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1973)
As a former president of Stanford University I am deeply disturbed by the disciplinary action Chulalongkorn University has taken against eight students for walking out of the annual Oath of Allegiance ceremony. Students in a university must be free peacefully to challenge established orthodoxy and they must be free to express their views plainly and to the point. As a friend of Thailand I deeply regret that the action taken by Chulalongkorn University is likely to diminish its reputation as a high quality academic institution.
8. Gerhard Casper, Professor of Law (Emeritus) the Ninth President of Stanford University
9.Gráinne de Búrca,  Professor of Law, NYU School of law
10. Herbert C. Kelman,  Professor of Social Ethics (Emeritus) Harvard University 
11. James McGaugh, Research Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, UC Irvine
Freedom of expression is essential to institutions of higher learning. 
12. Erica Chenoweth, Professor, the University of Denver
Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right for all individuals. Freedom is not a natural condition, but a moral commitment to social justice.
13. Peter McLaren, Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies, College of Educational Studies, Chapman University
We need to preserve democracy, especially in educational settings!
14. Philip G. Zimbardo, professor (Emeritus), Stanford University
Academic freedom is the first requirement of any university -- a full and free right to discuss any issue. 
15.Sidney Harring, Professor (Emeritus), the City University of New York School of Law.
Punishing students for expressing their right to dissent is at odds with any viable notion of the university as a democratic public sphere. In this instance, the university has violated one of its most sacred principles: freedom of expression and the right to dissent. 
16. Henry Giroux, University Professor, McMaster University
17. Shirley R. Steinberg, Research Professor of Critical Youth Studies , University of Calgary
18.Antonia Darder, Professor of Education Leadership,  Loyola Marymount University
19.Chandler Davis, Professor (Emeritus) , Toronto University,  Fellows of the American Mathematical Society
20.John Braithwaite, Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University (ANU)
21.Kenneth Saltman, Professor, the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
22.Michael W. Apple, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison
This seems a basic matter of human decency. I call on the University to act by the principles they claim to teach, to represent and to defend. 
23.David Graeber, Professor of anthropology, LSE
A university teaches with its words and deeds. This lesson is an embarrassment to the tradition of education everywhere. Thailand is better than this. Its universities should be as great as its people. 
24. Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School,
I support freedom to learn and speak without fear 
25. Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education, New York University