hazing sotus thailandStudy Teaching 

Thailand’s SOTUS problem

Seniority Order Tradition Unity Spirit – that’s what SOTUS stands for. Sounds good, kind of, at least in the beginning but when looking deeper into what that actually means for students joining Universities here in Thailand it becomes clear that SOTUS is all but a good and timely thing to have.

What is SOTUS exactly?

Each year when freshmen join University the SOTUS committee consisting of senior students will create hazing rituals for the newbies. They call it “SOTUS” because that sounds better than calling it what it is, being sadistic assholes for the sake of torturing others and satisfying oneself while being high on power. Obviously there are SOTUS events or rituals that don’t take things too far and are just there because (made up) ‘tradition’ calls for it and students actually just do some fun activities together but lots of SOTUS events, in fact, end up being sadistic and humiliating.

What happens at SOTUS?

Each year we see reports popping up showing how senior students humiliate freshmen. A few of those reports included:

  • Students were forced to perform oral sex
  • Students were blindfolded and forced to masturbate each other
  • Students were forced to swim through muddy lakes (one student died)
  • Students were tied up and had to crawl through mud
  • All kinds of ‘army like’ activities
  • Students being forced to be (half) naked doing all those things
  • …..

If this sounds terrible and inhumane to you, then you’re a ‘normal’ human being, congratulations. The reason to why students have to undergo such hazing rituals is something I will never understand. The argument of ‘it’s to form uniformity and instill obedience to seniors’ is something that is being thrown around quite a lot but as someone who did serve in the military I can say that even there there’s a reason as to why you have to follow orders and not just ‘because I say so’ plus University IS NOT the military and, believe it or not, that’s a good thing. University is there to make you think, to question the status quo, to make students ‘smarter’ not turn them into robots who just follow orders. 

Why isn’t SOTUS changing?

Before you think that’s only a weird foreigner point of view, there’s even a Thai Anti SOTUS Facebook page that gained quite some traction over the years. This shows that this problem is certainly well known and many people are speaking out against it. The question is just whether or not those protests will actually help to change the system as the change has to come from within but as long as SOTUS activities are a) allowed by Universities and b) held by power hungry seniors who want to do what has been done to them this might be a long way down the road.

SOTUS has been heavily discussed for a long time already as you can see from the short film below. However so far not much seems to have changed because, well, ‘tradition!’. The film below highlights the argumentation rather well when one of the antagonist says ‘If it would be wrong, it wouldn’t have survived until today, would it?’

(cover picture via Anti SOTUS)

What are your thoughts on SOTUS activities? Are you on board with hazing as it’s ‘part of Uni life’ or do you support the #endSOTUS movement?

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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