By Khaosod Online
11 September 2013, Last upated at 15:40 GMT
Thammasart Uniform Row: Dean Refuses To Budge
(11 September) The Dean
of Thammasart University′s Science Faculty insisted that students must wear uniforms to his class,
despite the ongoing campaign led by a student calling for an end to compulsory uniform
The Dean, Mr. Pakorn Sermsuk, said that the faculty board has decided to keep the
dress code requiring students to wear university uniform to TU130 class.
TU130 is a
compulsory module for all Thammasat freshmen students, and is notorious for its rule that all
students must wear uniform to class or risk missing the chance to earn quiz marks, which will be
calculated into the final grade.
The module has come under fire from a campaign spearheaded
by a transgender student at Faculty of Liberal Arts who identified herself as Aum Neko (she has
refused to give her full name to the press so far).
Ms. Aum, a second year student, argued
that forcing students to wear uniforms in university years is tantamount to restricting personal
freedom of the students and treating them like children, instead of letting them to think for
However, Mr. Pakorn said that all 15 professors teaching the class had advised
the students during introduction class that the must comply with the dress code, explaining that
"the subject is about science, and scientists must strictly follow rules".
He also complained
that for the past 10 years that the class has been taught, the professors have never encountered
such problems before. (Presumably, even when Ms. Aum was enrolled in the class last academic
All universities in Thailand require their students to wear uniforms, but its efforts
and severity vary from place to place.
Some buildings in Chulalongkorn University, for
instance, have gone as far as banning pink shoes because the university colour is pink, while
Thammasart University has relatively relaxed rules concerning the uniforms; the students are often
seen going to classes in attires of their choices. However, some Thammasart lecturers, like Mr.
Pakorn, are more adamant than others.
Although campaigns to end the compulsory uniform rules
have been sporadically launched by progressive students in some universities, Ms. Aum′s crusade has
been the most vocal in recent months.
Last week, Ms. Aum′s campaign made headlines after
scandalous anti-uniform posters started appearing around Thammasart University compound. The posters
depict male and female students having sexual intercourse in their uniforms.
In an interview
with Prachatai, Ms. Aum explained that students should be allowed to open up to creative thinking,
and release themselves from the limitations of the university’s uniforms in expressing their gender
According to Ms. Aum, Thammasat represents liberal ideology and freedom. She
argued that ever since its founding in the aftermath of the 1932 Revolution which toppled Siamese
absolute monarchy, the university has stood as a bastion against dictatorship in Thailand.
"The university should be reminded of its roots," Ms. Aum was quoted as saying.
uniform, in her perspective, also separates the gender identity of male and female apart, which
denotes the intolerance of the Thai society towards homosexuality.
She explained further
that even though the university is generally open about its dress code, many faculties established
their own rules to restrict students from casual clothing.
The activist student cited the
case of Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy at Tha Prachan campus, which has a sign that says ′no
uniform, no service′.
Ms. Aum′s activism, and the racy anti-uniform posters, have raised
sharp debates within the community of Thammasart University.
Some have sympathised with Ms.
Aum′s point that wearing uniform does not improve academic excellence in any way, whereas others
argued that dropping the dress code would lead to chaos or even moral nihilism in the country as
students might lose the sense of self-discipline.
In response to Ms. Aum’s protest, the
University Rector, Mr. Somkit Lertpaithoon, said that the University is appointing a special
commission to investigate the situation.
“I can confirm that we do not rule students to wear
uniform to class, but we ‘encourage’ them to, particularly during exam season, in order to teach
them about the virtues of disciplines” Mr. Somkit said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Prachya Nongnut, vice
president of student affairs, said that his authority is gathering opinions, and will soon consult
with the student union about the issue.
"Personally, I do not think that outfits matter
equally to the things we learn in class. But the students should also be aware that their outfits
indicate the respect they have toward the university.” Mr. Prachya said
He added, “Our
organisation is conducting a public hearing, before we can conclude what we should wear to class
that does not devalue our identity”.
ภาพ : Ms. Aum Neko posing with the statue of Pridi Banomyong, the founder of Thammasart University