BANGKOK — From spleens being burst as a result of beatings and screaming university chants while rolling in mud, to an abusive religious camp where students were forced to stand reciting pledges until 5am, activists ranked the worst instances of hazing to break the news in 2018.
The anti-hazing watchdog Anti Sotus ranked the worst offenses of the hazing tradition of Strength, Order, Tradition, Unity and Spirit (SOTUS), in 2018, with four of the top ten involving high-school students.
“It’s kind of a hall of fame. Or is it a hall of shame?” Bandhukavi Palakawong na Ayudhya, an activist in the Anti Sotus group said. “Personally the worst one for me was the guy who was kicked until his spleen burst, because it was so violent.”
The following rankings are based on both online polls held by Anti Sotus and Anti Sotus admins, with 350 votes from netizens weighing for half of the votes, and rankings by the 20 activists in the group weighing in for the other half.
Maejo University, Rajabhat University, Rajamangala University, Kasetsart University and Chiang Mai University tied with King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang in the top five worst universities for hazing overall.
“Maejo is one of the only unis that have sanctified and institutionalized their SOTUS in their rules, while others unis change them. Maejo have shown that they stand by their SOTUS,” Keerati Panmanee, secretary-general of Anti Sotus said Monday.
Bandhukavi said that Chiang Mai University students have a SOTUS activity where they are forced to run up a mountain.
Since the above five are not highly-ranked universities, Anti Sotus created a separate ranking for competitive universities. Thammasat received the best score for the most gentle SOTUS activities, followed by Chulalongkorn and Mahidol. Silpakorn, Kasetsart and Chiang Mai University were ranked to have “harsh SOTUS” activities.
Keerati said that in 2019, there should be less violent SOTUS activities since awareness is increasing and more people are sending in social media tips – but the kind of SOTUS where students are pressured into strange activities or donating money lives on.
“Sometimes it’s influential alumni who are perpetuating this tradition,” he said. “They could increase methods of brainwashing kids to love their institution.”
1. Dhamma Camp
Topping the list was a Sriyaphai School in Surat Thani where Matthayom 4 (Grade 10) students were forced to attend a three-day Dhamma Camp where students were forced to watch disturbing clips of corpses and animals being killed. When students couldn’t stomach eating food after watching the clips, all their food was put into a single pot and were made to watch their teachers eat it.
Students were also made to stand until 5am pledging that they would never use drugs, with many fainting from sheer exhaustion. Disturbed students sought psychiatric help, with some dropping out of school.
Although the camp happened four years ago, news of it first broke in November in an anonymous Pantip post. Then, Facebook user Jettepon Kraimark came forward and said he was the older brother of one of the students who attended.
“After he came back from the camp, he kept apologizing…he couldn’t sleep. At night he would wake up and prostrate at our feet, apologizing for being gay, but we already knew about him,” Jettapon said. His brother had to get psychiatric help.
Jettepon’s post encouraged others to come forward with their own Buddhist camp experiences.
“Before sleeping at 11pm we watched clips of corpses and babies being born. At 3:30am we had to do chants until the morning. We didn’t eat dinner and I have low blood pressure so I went out to puke,” commented user Praphapan Pompan. “The damn monk said through the mic that in my past life, I had an abortion.”
Anti Sotus admins agreed that the dhamma camp was resonating because many have experienced similar camps.
“For me, the dhamma camp was ranked the worst SOTUS activity because it’s something that is so normal that a lot of people experience but it’s really horrific,” Keerati said.
“This is a very religious Buddhist school, but the admins lack understanding on how to organize a proper camp,” Bandhukavi said.
2. Spleen Burst
Coming second was when Pawarit Rangsit, 19, a student at Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep was beaten during hazing by three upperclassmen until his spleen burst. According to activists, this case was the first criminal prosecution for SOTUS hazing since Thewarit Buasiri, 21, Anant Jub-akart, 20, and Samart Sukhontha, 21, were charged with grievous bodily harm.
3. Mouth-to-Mouth Candy Hazing
In August, five upperclassmen at King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok were suspended for forcing freshmen to pass a single piece of candy between them, putting them at risk of transmitting hepatitis, herpes and other illnesses.
4. E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N at Silpakorn U
Students at Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Education in August were forced to chant the university’s history and faculty’s slogan. If they made any mistakes, they had to chant “ E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N EDUCATION!” at the top of their lungs. A recording of the hazing was sent to the activist group.
“Faculties of Education are known for harsh SOTUS, because of their philosophy of creating teachers that cow their students,” Keerati said.
High school students were forced to kiss the ground at Suan Kularb Chonburi School as part of a hazing ritual.
“It’s worrying that SOTUS, normally in universities, is spreading to high schools. High schoolers have been using SOTUS in even worse ways than university students,” Bandhukavi said.
6. Bizarre Dress Codes
Upperclassmen at the Faculty of Nursing at Mahidol University in September created 30 dress code rules out of thin air, including forcing students to wear formal ceremonial uniforms, always wearing a bowtie and only clear-colored contacts.
7. Rolling Naked in Mud and Hay
Freshmen at the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna were made to roll around naked in a muddy field and on dried rice stalks. Upperclassmen poured saline water haphazardly on the wounds they suffered. One student was rushed to hospital, and the perpetrators of the activity were fined 200 baht each.
Technical universities and engineering programs are also known SOTUS hotbeds.
“They have this dek chang [vocational student] culture which is mostly populated by guys. So the SOTUS activities there are usually physically tough,” Keerati said.
8. Hazing High Schoolers
Another instance of hazing hitting high schools, Grade 10 students at Prince Royal school in Chiang Mai were blindfolded and verbally abused while being forced to scream apologies and roll around on the athletic quad.
9. More Mouth-to-Mouth
Similar to the incident in King Mongkut University, Matthayom 4 students in the Reserve Officers Training Course program at Kusumanwittayakom School in Sakon Nakhon were forced to pass candy mouth-to-mouth in June.
10. Chanting and Mud-Rolling
Last but not least, engineering freshmen at Rambhai Barni Rajabhat University in Chanthaburi were forced to scream university chants while rolling around in mud in September.