Le Coup d'état à l'université

At first I didn't want to comment on the recent Chula scandal because, like a good Thai, you shouldn't criticise the educational institution that you graduated from, especially one with such history, pride and prestige. If you've been reading my editor's notes, you know I have poked fun at Uncle Tu many times -- he does give me a lot of material to work with! Yet, when it came to the establishment where I received my higher education, I was hesitant.

I just don't want to be told that I'm ungrateful.

I'm very grateful to have met many inspiring ajarns and classmates during the four years I studied my bachelor's degree at the Faculty of Art. But the response by the uni's administration to the recent scandal where a professor put a male student in a headlock as he and his friends walked out of an initiation ceremony had me think about what kind of values Chula -- or its leadership, to be more exact -- stands for.

My decision to comment came after a letter by the Communication Arts alumni group which got circulated online on Monday. In it, they show support for how the administration punished the eight students involved in the incident for the sake of upholding the university's good reputation and tradition. I can only wonder if the group spoke for all of the Communication Arts alumni. These eight students had their "behavioural scores" deducted to a point that rendered them no longer able to hold positions in the Student Council to which they had been elected by fellow students. A silent Chula coup -- if you will.

There are so many sides to this story. And you can look at it from various aspects too, which I couldn't possibly fit all into this space. However, one of the biggest debates seems to boil down to whether the walk was originally planned by Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and his friends as some sort of publicity stunt as the uni accused them of. Even if that were the case, shouldn't a professor be able to rise above that and react more maturely? It could have been an opportunity to learn how to deal with difference -- or even disruption -- in a calm and collected manner.

But when the university's admin handed down a judgement on the students while, at the time of writing, not saying much about the professor who went berserk, this just didn't sit right with me. To me, this sends a dubious message of how we should be dealing with people who stray away from the norm -- by swiftly and perhaps unfairly silencing them? If your definition of unity equates to people doing or following the exact same thing without questioning it, I think that's pretty weak. Also, I hope that various groups associated with the institution would refrain from claiming that their opinions represent an entire group. It's just unrealistic to think that people will think about or react to situations in the same way.

This may cost me some Facebook friends but I think it's my right to speak my mind. I'm not being ungrateful. I'm just sharing my opinion.

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