Freshmen Introduction in Thailand – waste of time or tradition?

Each and  every year I am witness to some very strange scenes here in Thailand. To be more precise every time when the new term comes around the corner and freshmen are about to enter University.

Freshmen introduction.

The thing that puzzles me a bit about that is the way this is always being done. I’m not from The States or England and only know those fraternity stuff from bad Uni or College movies but that’s probably where Thai Universities got their ideas from as well. Exception: It’s not a fraternity thing but a faculty thing. So all freshmen, unless they have a good excuse or choose being bullied afterwards, have to join those rituals.

Those rituals include army-like yelling and being screamed at, random sports tasks (although they are usually not that hard to accomplish) and further stupid made up tasks that are simply thought to be insulting. Now, having been in the army, I wouldn’t say that it is very similar since the people screaming and yelling here are only older students but that’s actually the thing that annoys me even more.

In the army this whole yelling and obeying to orders kind of makes sense. In some parts at least. Here at Uni it does not. Why are senior students supposed to yell and scream at freshmen? The freshmen then have to treat those senior students extremely well otherwise they will be punished again. Besides the whole master-servant thing being totally un-2014-like I also think that this conveys a completely wrong idea of how to live together in unity. The freshmen of today are now basically waiting for next year’s freshmen just to shout at them and to get some kind of “payback” – even though the new freshmen didn’t do anything to them.

Besides all that I also think that this whole thing is a huge waste of time. They spend so much time with all of that – but not only with doing activities by themselves but also with being angry, mad and scared (several students break down and cry every single time). This whole feeling of intimidation pre-occupies freshmen a lot and doesn’t help at all with getting accustomed to University life, rules and procedures.

Of course one could argue that that’s a tradition and tradition needs to be valued. And I agree on that. Tradition needs to be valued to a certain degree. However tradition that resembles Hollywood movies doesn’t need to be valued as much especially not if it hurts people and their development.

Am I wrong with that approach? Maybe I’m missing something. Let me know your thoughts and shout out in the comments. Thanks.

  • Totally agree with you here. I went to Thammasat University for my Bachelors and I was surprised with the way they treated us during the introduction. I actually wanted to get up and yell back at them. On top the whole “ragging” was in Thai, which made it worse. Luckily since I kept my head down, they didn’t say anything or make me do anything.