MAIL BAG [email protected]
Student inductions: welcoming, team-building or ritual humiliation?
There is much to be said in favour of the oerganisation of participatory
activities to welcome new students when they start at a university. However,
some recent local unfortunate incidents of very-unpleasant hazing serve to
remind us that activities arranged for freshmen ought to be a positive
experience, rather than an ordeal.
At the very least, it is a fine thing for the various student societies,
departmental committees and university sports teams to be represented at
freshers fairs, introducing each organisation to the newcomers. For it adds
greatly to an undergraduate’s enjoyment of university life – as well as to
his or her personal development – to actively participate in such community
organisations whilst a university student.
And then there are the student-organised ‘’installation’’ activities,
intended as inductions to student life. Without a doubt, some local
arrangements along these lines have strayed far beyond what is reasonable,
fair or even decent. The older-student organisers of the worst of these have
sometimes indulged in planning the ritual humiliation of freshmen,
presenting them with the very opposite of what really should be arranged –
not with a warm welcome, but instead with a frightening ordeal. University
authorities around the World, including here, need to take seriously the
danger of such activities going too far, by monitoring and controlling them
as needs be.
The recent traditional group hike up Doi Suthep, arranged at Chiang Mai
University (CMU), shows exactly how such freshman inductions can be
conducted in a positive way. The singing of faculty songs, the strong group
support from other freshmen and senior students, plus the shared (but
harmless) endeavour, all contributed to the build-up of worthwhile team
(i.e. faculty, and university) spirit, and all could participate without
ever being humiliated or ridiculed.
Other types of senior-student-arranged welcoming activities for freshmen can
also be done in an impressive, though unthreatening, way. For example,
freshmen at CMU’s large Faculty of Medicine were recently welcomed by the
senior medical students laying on a truly delightful evening of beautiful
traditional Northern Thai music and dance for them. Bearing in mind that
some of these newcomers arrive from far-off parts of Thailand, this lovely
presentation of Lanna historical and cultural themes was very appropriate.
This was a splendid cultural show, clearly enjoyed just as much by the
talented volunteer medical student performers as by those of us lucky enough
to be involved with it. The student-organised show was arranged and
conducted at a professional level. The great amount of necessary teamwork
and mutual support required to lay on a lengthy, varied and talented
performance of this nature would itself contribute much to the team spirit
of the faculty.
Furthermore, the wearing of the medical faculty’s own special Lanna clothes,
by the student audience members as well as by the performers, contributed
more in that direction. Having some freshmen on stage as some of the
performers also did much for inclusivity within the faculty. All this is to
the good. Again, it demonstrates that freshmen inductions can and should be
pleasurable experiences, rather than being an ordeal to get through.
Let us hope that those two nice CMU freshman induction activities, mentioned
above, will serve as exemplars - discouraging the senior student provision
of other unpleasant forms of student induction activity and encouraging more
of the enjoyable and wholesome ones.
New underpass at Superhighway
It was with great dismay that I read your news that they plan on constructing a
new underpass where the Mae Jo road meets the Superhighway. Why don’t they wait
until the Mae Rim road construction is finished? I live in Mae Rim and, like
most other Mae Rim residents, use the Mae Jo road to get home. With this new
construction they have just made traffic that much worse!
Don’t they consider how these things will impact traffic? Also why are they
putting in a costly and difficult to construct underpass? Why not just construct
an overpass which will cause much less impact on traffic and take far less time
While I am at it, I should like to say that the Mae Rim road construction of an
underpass at the Canal Road was completely unnecessary. That road is not that
busy in the first place. In the second place, they are building this enormously
wide road which will then funnel down into only a few lanes once it reaches Mae
Rim anyway. I do not see how this will help traffic at all.
I wonder about the feasibility studies that are done on these projects and who
does them. Do they take into account traffic patterns when they do them or do
they only look at the soil and the impact on the environment? Do they take into
account how useful it is? Or how necessary it is? Do they take into account how
much disruption it will cause and if the new underpass will actually make the
I am not opposed to the new underpass at the Superhighway but the timing could
not be worse. Why can they not wait until the Mae Rim road is finished so that
they do not cause even worse traffic jams then there already are?
Mae Rim resident
Three Kings Monument
impossible for pedestrians
Ratchaweetee Road at the Three King Monument near the Museum is impossible to
walk on. There are motorbikes on the places to walk all day long and the cars
and tuk tuks parking where the motorbikes and bicycles should normally park.
The police seem to accept this and to protect some coffee shops and restaurants
for parking. The minibus and motorbikes from Yupparat Wittayalai School fill the
roads and parking spaces and leave the pavements full. It is also a very
dangerous place to drive the car as it is always so full of parked vehicles and
Three Kings Monument lover
What happened to parking enforcement?
I recall reading in your publication some time back that the Traffic Police were
going to enforce parking laws and would clamp and fine car owners who parked
illegally. There was even a flurry of such actions around the city but it seems
that is no longer happening except perhaps on Suthep Road where they have a new
policy of only parking on one side of the road. According to drivers who use
this road regularly, it has made a difference.
However, in other parts of the city, it seems this is no longer the case. I see
people parked illegally quite regularly and nothing done about it. This illegal
parking makes everything far more difficult for everyone on the road and is
quite inconsiderate. I call on the police to start ticketing illegally parked
cars again. Not only will it help ease traffic congestion on narrow roads it
will also add to the coffers.
Chiang Mai needs to do something about enforcing traffic laws regularly and it
needs to do it now. Traffic is getting out of hand and without people following
the law it will only get worse.
Stuck in traffic