Thammasat University row takes an interesting turn
September 14, 2013 00:00
By Kornchanok Raksaseri
THE CAMPAIGN launched by Thammasat University students last week over uniforms appears to have provoked a lot of debate.
Topics such as freedom, discipline and other issues are being constantly debated, while Facebook fanpages seem to be filled with different opinions.
In fact, some opinions, especially about the university itself, are so divided that fanpages with names like East and West TU have been set up. The administrators of these pages have been trying really hard to make their divisions sound like East and West Germany.
Yet the “East” (https://www.facebook.com/inEastTU?fref=ts) and “West”
(https://www.facebook.com/BundesrepublikThammasat?fref=ts) are equally critical about the university’s decision to make students wear uniforms.
“East TU” presents itself as conservative, but deals with the regulation on uniforms in a sarcastic manner, saying that everybody – human or animal – at Thammasat University has to wear a uniform.
Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Bureau of Thammasat or CIBT (https://www.facebook.com/IntelligenceBureauTU?fref=ts), which joined Facebook on Wednesday, has been reporting on the movements in the university.
“After the establishment of the Neko Wall [think the wall of Berlin], there have been many movements such as the ‘TU Exiled Government’, ‘Students’ Front against the separation of TU’ and ‘Support SSJ [Somsak Jeamteerasakul] as the rector of West TU’.” Meanwhile, separation movements have been announcing their independence as free states and self-administration areas, the “intelligence bureau” posted in its “Situation Report from the UN [University Nations]”.
Claiming cooperation with the “Green Light of Thailand” page, which is run by some Thammasat staff members, CIBT posted a map detailing the zones occupied by different groups in the university’s Rangsit Campus. It lists the 68 names of states, administrative areas, organisations and movements on campus as of 3pm on Thursday. Many of these groups are also present on Facebook.
Several Thammasat alumni have complained that this divided opinion is making their heads ache. Former student Aim Attanon asked: “Did I graduate from Thammasat or a battlefield?”
In a new development, poems were posted simultaneously by TU rector Somkit Lertpaithoon and Aum Neko, the student who began the campaign against the uniform regulation, on the TU Exiled Government page yesterday.
This page had earlier posted the result of a survey among students at the Tha Prachan Campus about who would be best suited for the rector’s post. Current rector Somkit won 22 of the 65 votes in total, followed by lecturer Thanes Wongyannava with 13, while Somsak and deputy rector Prinya Thaewanarumitkul were running head-to-head with six votes.
The page had earlier compared Thanes and Somsak’s qualifications as rectors.
On a completely different tangent, the TU Tawan Daeng fanpage decided to make fun of the East and West TU pages, saying that though tawan awk stands for East and tawan tok for West in Thai, Tawan Daeng is the name of a well-known brewery. Hence the motto: “We don’t care about uniforms, we only care about side dishes.”
Other than Thammasat, students from other universities also seem to have launched online campaigns by setting up fanpages, such as the Kingdom of Bangkok University and the Sacred Assumption Empire – which carries Assumption University’s logo against the message: “Arguments over ‘university student uniforms’ is no different than arguing over whether Doraemon or Sun Goku is better”.
Thammasat University, which was once referred to as the university of laws “and politics”, appears still to be a leader when it comes to provocative debates.