A PROMINENT university in Thailand on Monday apologized over an incident involving it students donning World War II-era Nazi and counter-revolutionist Chinese Red Guard costumes during an orientation ceremony recently.
Mortified by a series of photographs of the students that went viral on social media earlier this week, Silpakorn University Rector Chaicharn Thavaravej said an official apology has been sent to the Israeli Embassy over the incident.
The ceremony at the Bangkok-based university’s Faculty of Decorative Arts, where one student dressed as Nazi party leader and Führer Adolf Hitler while another appeared as his partner Eva Brown, was reportedly held to welcome university freshmen in what appeared to be a typical hazing ritual.
“Silpakorn University regrets what this group of shameless and irresponsible students did,” he announced via Facebook alongside as cited by Khaosod English.
“A committee will be appointed to review what happened, and people involved will all be disciplined.”
Representatives from the university, including its deputy rectors and the dean of the faculty, are also expected to meet with Israeli Embassy officials today.
The university also said it was planning to further educate its students and the public about genocide and world history through an exhibition.
Khaosod quoted Israeli Ambassador Simon Roded as saying that the university took action to “rectify the absence of teaching about the horrors of the Holocaust”, by organizing events to raise the awareness of their students.
Roded added the embassy was looking to collaborate with the university on the exhibition.
The incident became public after student activist Parit Chiwarak on Sunday posted photographs of the ceremony on Facebook.
The students, who were either in Nazi army or Red Guard uniforms were also pictured raising their hands to mimic the Sieg-Heiling Nazi-style salute.
Seniors at the school, Parit explained, were putting pressure on the freshmen in a rite of passage before they could be accepted into the fold.
“If they just dressed for fun, then they are just simply ignorant,” Khaosod quoted Parit as saying on Monday. “But it seems they brought dictatorial symbols to use with dictatorial activities.”
He added the incident reflected the lack of education on global history among the students.
Known in Thai language as ‘rab nong’ (welcome the juniors), hazing rituals at Thailand’s universities are prevalent, despite heavy criticism from the Thai and international press, as well the growing number of local anti-hazing groups, for sometimes violent, dehumanizing, and humiliating practices.
Hazing, which comes under the banner of SOTUS (Seniority: Order: Tradition: Unity: Spirit), at its worst has led to the deaths of students, although loss of life does not frequently happen.
However, the degradation of juniors by seniors, is commonplace, and has been widely reported by the press and students themselves.