Across Thailand each year, here comes a time when the new academic year is about to start. Are you ever fed up with the ongoing news over the ritualized abuse on campus? If the so-called Rub Nong (welcoming the newcomers) existed only in the forms of singing the university’s theme songs or joining the recreational activities together, the concerning issue over human rights violation would not have been raised. It would not be surprising to see university freshmen being forced to strictly follow whatever the seniors demand ranging from shouting, drinking to menacing threats and intimidation causing injury or death. Embarrassing and unnecessary as it sounds, the traditional abusive practice of Rub Nong must be stamped out from our school system and society.
Rub Nong activity aims to plant the seed of unity and to cultivate shared pride among members of a particular university; however, it has turned to a wrong direction since the evidence for more extreme and fatal abuse rises. The cruel rite-of-passage, adopted from the contemporary US fraternity system and Thailand’s military services, has indeed triggered both parents and freshmen’s concerns due to the increasing number of mournful news broadcasted through media outlets, especially social media. Reported every year, the number of freshmen being physically and emotionally injured from the consequence of hazing is gradually escalating but the victims are reluctant to speak out. In fact, what we observe on the news is only the tip of iceberg. Though a campaign called “Ruknongyachuonnongduem” has been widely promoted on television to prohibit alcohol on hazing and to prevent abusive treatments launched, enough has not been implemented to solve the ongoing problems.
Not only does the practice violate human and constitution rights, but it also has not contributed to any relevant positive effect on education nor the society as a whole. Is hazing not a time consuming activity resulting in conflicts? Students had better focus on their priority, education. Additionally, a new method of hazing should be introduced to promote unity and discipline within the group. A more friendly and creative activity such as participating in freshmen sports games or volunteering for development camp has wide-ranging benefits to create strong bonds between freshmen and upperclassmen. As a result, freshmen feel fully welcomed and respected instead of poor commitment of freshmen who resent being hazed.
Humiliated, abused, and dehumanized practices of hazing must be driven into the ground. Both public and private sections have to make firm steps and take serious actions towards this matter. Together, we can continue fostering awareness and developing effective prevention strategies to eradicate harmful hazing! Just because it is a tradition does not mean it cannot be changed. STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS!
Edited by Am