The Facebook page reported that senior students at the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts forced freshmen students to strip naked, shower together and simulate sex acts during a hazing ceremony last Saturday (Sept 16).
It also said freshmen students in this faculty experienced serious abuse, including sexual harassment, at the welcoming ceremony for freshmen.
In the wake of the online report, Wanchai Sutananta, rector of Silpakorn University, yesterday )Sept 20) set up a panel to determine whether the freshmen initiation activities were really conducted by senior students of the faculty.
“I have received a report on this. I have assigned the dean of the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts at Silpakorn University to set up a probe panel and verify the facts,” Mr Wanchai said.
He said he will give the panel time to find out whether there was any sexual harassment during the hazing activity.
If senior students are found guilty, they will be punished by the university, he said.
According to the Facebook page, several students who attended the ceremony wrote in a post to confirm the story by Anti-Sotus that senior students gave them questionable orders and committed many acts of sexual harassment and discrimination against freshmen, especially male students.
One male first-year student wrote that he had been woken in the middle of the night and forced to take off all his clothes and lie down in positions in which young students’ faces were aligned with each other’s buttocks.
Another freshman wrote that she also had been rebuked by a senior student, who said she had falsely claimed her mother had died as an excuse to skip the freshmen welcoming ceremony. The student wrote that her mother really had recently passed away.
An online campaign on Change.org has also been launched to demand that Silpakorn University investigate the incident and punish all wrongdoers. Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin also said wrongdoers must be penalised.
“I have always emphasised that initiation rituals should respect human rights. Give first-year students impressive experiences, not humiliation,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Office of the Higher Education Commission said students are under no obligation to attend such rituals, and has laid down guidelines. It says activities organised for student initiation rites must be acceptable morally and in keeping with cultural norms. They also bar activities which can lead to harassment of freshmen “both physically and mentally”.
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