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Probe after Chula student headlocked by lecturer in dispute over kneeling

Probe after Chula student headlocked by lecturer in dispute over kneeling

FRIDAY, August 04, 2017

CHULALONGKORN University (CU) will launch probes against a lecturer and a prominent student for an “ugly” scene during the annual solemn oath-taking ceremony.

CU vice president Bancha Chalapirom said yesterday that the inappropriate incident took place as the ceremony was held in front of statues of King Rama V and King Rama VI on Thursday. 
“We will set up committees to investigate the ethics and manners of the lecturer and Netiwit [Chotiphatphaisal],” Bancha said. 
Netiwit was seen leading some students out of designated spots while other participants in the ceremony remained in their rows. There was conflicting information as to whether their move took place after the ceremony had already ended or after a heavy downpour began. 
But widely circulated pictures showed a male lecturer had headocked a student with one arm and dragged him away. 
That student was later identified as Suphalak Bumroongkit, a vice president of the CU Student Council. Netiwit is the council’s president. 
Bancha said the incident affected the image of CU.
“On Monday, we will have a discussion on the probes,” he said. 
According to Bancha, the lecturer who charged at Suphalak was admitted to hospital because of stress and hyperventilation. 
In a statement published on the CU website on Thursday, Bancha said this lecturer had always worked closely with students and might have been upset that the Netiwit-led group failed to comply with an agreement made earlier. Although Bancha apologised in the statement to Suphalak for the lecturer’s inappropriate reaction, he raised the possibility of a group of students plotting to make a scene during the ceremony. 

Probe after Chula student headlocked by lecturer in dispute over kneeling
Netiwit, however, yesterday firmly denied any such plot. He said no lecturer had asked him about what happened and thus the university administration might have received one-sided information.
“The headlock took place after the oath-taking ceremony had already ended. My group members stood up and made the move just as a symbolic gesture. We did not try to disrupt anything,” Netiwit said. 
He suggested that the lecturer who lunged at Suphalak might have been biased against his group. 
Suphalak said the lecturer who charged at him had not yet contacted him to discuss the incident. 
Netiwit has long challenged the CU tradition of having first-year students bend their knees before the statues of the late kings. 
When he was a freshman last year, he joined the oath-taking ritual without kneeling down. 
“In his reign, King Rama V annulled the tradition of falling prostrate,” Netiwit said. 
CU has now given students the option of paying respects to the statues of the late kings with a bow or curtsey, if they wished. 
So far, most first-year students have chosen to kneel down or sit down politely on the ground and show their respects. 
Bancha said CU would continue the tradition of such oath-taking ceremony because the institute had developed from a school for royal pages. 
“But probably, we may make it shorter. We will communicate with Netiwit. He is like one of our children here,” Bancha said.