BANGKOK — A student activist in his first year at Chulalongkorn University said Thursday he was threatened with physical harm for calling attention to the hazing tactics used on freshmen in the university’s Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts.
Freshman Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, 19, said he was threatened online by classmates after he posted an audio clip Saturday of seniors threatening to punish freshmen if they did not participate in the annual induction ceremony, which is famous for sometimes harsh or degrading hazing known as rub nong.
“They threatened to punch me if ever they see me around,” said Netiwit, a known pro-democracy studying in the university’s political science program. “When I heard [the audio] I couldn’t take it. That’s why I spread it.”
He said other freshmen who were unhappy about the situation gave him the recording.
In the audio, students are heard expressing concern about what will happen to them as what were said to be seniors issue orders to them.
As happens occasionally during similar hazing in the military, university students have died as a result of harsh hazing. Two years ago, the body of a 16-year-old student suffering from leukemia was dumped at a hospital by his classmates after an all night session in which students were kicked into the sea.
On Thursday, Netiwit said he was subjected to dirty looks from other students on campus.
Since raising the issue, he said the seniors in his faculty postponed the event, but he believes they will go ahead with it once attention shifts away.
Netiwit said his Political Science department is much less imperious about ritualistically forcing freshmen into submission to their elder classmates.
“It’s my last priority [to join],” he said.
Netiwit said didn’t file a complaint with the university, saying the public would be the ultimate judges.
Some students and sectors have over the years called for abolishing rub nong. As a result of his messages, Netiwit said he gained about 4,000 new followers on Facebook in a matter of days.