CU denies forcing students to prostrate in the rain in oath-taking ritual

Chulalongkorn University administration clarified on Thursday (Aug 3) that it did not force first-year students to sit in the rain and to prostrate in front of the statue of King Chulalongkorn, the founder of the university, in an oath-taking ceremony.

The clarification was made by Bancha Chalapirom, vice rector for student affairs, on the university website www.chula.ac.th in response to a comment by Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, president of the CU student council, implying that the freshies were forced to sit on the spacious lawn despite rain and to prostrate.

The defiant student leader said the students were given rain coats while the lecturers had umbrellas. He added that he could not stand the treatment of the students and left the scene with some of his friends – one of whom, he alleged, was assaulted by a lecturer.

In the clarification, Mr Bancha said that the oath-taking ritual had been held annually as a tradition and that the ceremony had been going on for a while before rain started, but the students organizers decided that the ritual should proceed and raincoats were distributed among the freshmen.

The vice rector claimed that the students themselves chose to prostrate to show their respect of King Chulalongkorn’s statue and none of them protested, except Mr Netiwit and his associates.

Mr Bancha added that the CU’s student affairs division had allowed students to pay respect to King Chulalongkorn’s statue by bowing instead of prostrating at the end of the ceremony.

The vice rector admitted that a lecturer used force with a male student who walked out of the ceremony.

Mr Bangcha apologised the student on behalf of the lecturer, saying that he might did such action out of anger. He added that the lecturer had been admitted to hospital due to high stress after the incident.