A FRESHMAN initiation ceremony in Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University turned sour on Thursday, courting controversy after students staged a walkout with one of them put into a chokehold by a lecturer, local media reported.
According to the Bangkok Post, the chaos erupted after some of the students refused to sit on the ground and prostrate themselves to pay respect to a monument of the university’s founder, King Rama V.
The report said the students refused to lay on the ground as it was raining at the time.
Chulalongkorn University Student Council president and activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal was quoted as saying a university deputy rector earlier promised to provide an area for students who did not wish to sit on the ground.
Netiwit also said the deputy rector had also promised an area where students would be allowed to stand to pay the respects in the event of rain fall.
However, the activist said the promises were broken when all students were ordered to sit on the ground, despite the fact it was raining.
He added small plastic sheets were allocated to students, while lecturers were given umbrellas to protect themselves.
“I could not stand so my colleagues and I walked out,” Netiwit said in a posting on Facebook.
“Then a lecturer came up to my friend and put him in a chokehold to scold him. It’s unbelievable.”
“I’m confused why has the university that was named after King Rama V stepped backwards and adapted such outdated traditions, especially given the fact that prostration on the ground was not used at the university from the outset, but was introduced 20 years ago,” he said.
Another student who attended the ceremony, however, refuted Netiwit’s claims, saying the event saw mild rain while the lecturers did not use the umbrellas.
The protest, he said, happened in the presence of a TV news team.
“The protest was likely staged managed for the TV crew,” he said.
The university’s deputy rector Bancha Chalapirom maintained the students were not forced to sit during the rain, adding students were given raincoats as the ceremony went on during a slight drizzle.
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