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University orientations in Thailand are notorious for human rights violations. But a top Thai university has announced a halt to cruel and dangerous activities.
On 12 June 2017, the Student Council of Chulalongkorn University (SCCU) posted on its Facebook page a “declaration of rights during orientation activities”. The declaration states that students cannot be forced, either physically or psychologically, to join orientation. Those who host activities must carefully comply with human rights principles.
The policy shift has been spurred by new SCCU president Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a progressive student activist who has repeatedly criticised traditional practices in Thailand’s education system. After being elected as president, he told the media his first priority was to reform student orientation practices. 
The declaration enshrines six values. 
  1. Respect for human rights: students must be treated equally regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender and belief. 
  2. Financial transparency: students have the right to know what orientation fees will be spent on, and have the right not to pay if they view the activities as unnecessary.
  3. Consent: all activities must be on a voluntary basis.
  4. No harassment: students cannot be forced, threatened or pressured to join activities.
  5. Accountability: relevant organisations must take responsibility for all activities. 
  6. Hygiene: all activities must take into account student health and should avoid practices that spread disease.     
The Student Government of CU (SGCU) has also released a statement affirming that all student orientation activities will be on a voluntary basis and will not lead to human rights violations.
Every year, numerous Thai freshmen are wounded or killed in orientation activities since a culture of seniority encourages new students to comply with whatever older students order. 
In 2014, a 16-year-old vocational student died after his seniors ordered him to drink liquor and drop head-down into the sea. In 2016, a freshmen student was hospitalised as a result of orientation activities at CU’s Fine Arts Faculty. 
Pictures of freshmen lying face-down on the ground are common during student orientation season (Photo from MThai
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