Dr. Nopbhorn Leeprechanon, former President of the Faculty Senate of Thammasat University, said in the “Rector Meets Students” activity on Wednesday that Thammasat University would be the first in Thailand to allow two student representatives, the presidents of the Thammasat University Student Union and Thammasat UniversityStudent Council, to join the University Council. This unheard-of trial would benefit students in several ways, said Dr. Nopbhorn.
Dr. Nopbhorn Leeprechanon
Dr. Nopbhorn pushed the promotion of transparency in the university as the first benefit. “Students have never attended the Council or knew what the university was actually doing.”
He said that transparency is significant for good governance: the democratically elected student representatives will know what is actually happening in the university.
Dr. Nopbhorn thinks that other universities may not easily adopt this idea. “Thammasat University will be the first university to allow students to attend the council,” he emphasized. Thammasat University students’ historical struggle for democracy made a system like this possible,” he said.
However, Dr. Somkit Lertpaithoon, Rector of Thammasat University, mentioned the difficulty of students not following topics during Council meetings. “I’m not sure yet whether students can really understand and follow the council agenda,” he said. “We deal with difficult topics in the Council.”
Another problem is that students will no longer criticize university decisions after they join the Council, because student representatives are part of it. “Big power comes with responsibility,” he added.
Dr. Somkit Lertpaithoon, Rector of Thammasat University
Dr. Nopbhorn argued against this view, saying that the topics are not too difficult for students to understand. “After a few meetings, students will overcome this issue,” he said. However he also mentioned the importance of accountability. “Since they are elected democratically, they also are responsible for telling students what they hear and say in the Council.”
Prachaya Nongnuch, President of Thammasat University Student Council
“I am a representative of the students of Thammasat University and elected democratically,” said Prachaya Nongnuch, President of Thammasat University Student Council, a fourth year student in the Faculty of Political Science. He said the new system would actually benefit students to see what the university does for students. “We, as representatives, can obtain more power to support students than before.”
The trial will start at the end of this year at the latest, said Dr. Nopbhorn. The university first needs to change the university regulations.
'Rector Meets Students' PR board
The “Rector Meets Students” event is held once a term to bridge the gap between the university and students through free discussion, dealing with several topics then. At this meeting, heads of several sectors gathered, including the Rector, and talked with students on university governance, problems of slow grading, treatment at Thammasat University Hospital, dormitories and university gates. “We expect the university and students to understand each other through this activity,” said a spokesperson from Thammasat University Student Council, which hosted the activity.