Normally don’t discriminate, but when it comes down to ‘kakkers’ and ‘studenten verenigingen’ I’m a different person. I just don’t like them. Kakkers are described as stuck-up, pompous people. The word “kakker” is derived from the word “kak”, which also means “arrogance” and “poshness” etc. Next to this in the Dutch language we have the word “bekakt” which means “posh”. Posh doesn’t necessarily mean wealthy, but it means the mentally of being wealthy. A kakker is often associated with student fraternities (“studenten vereningen”).I don’t like kakkers because of their attitude and their hazing rituals. When I found out in that Thai senior students were also forcing freshmen’s to participate in hazing rituals, I decided to compare the two countries to see who is the worst. The winner doesn’t get a price btw.
Hazing in Holland
An “ontgroening”, “Rab Nong” or “hazing” is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group. In the Netherlands “Nullen” means “ zeros” , these are the freshmen who are participating in these rituals. They have to participate in these rituals in order to become member of a student fraternity. The official name for this is “inauguratie” which of course means inauguration. The word “ontgroening” is not only used for the rituals of the students, but also in the army. It used to be common to shave the “nul’s” head during the “ontgroening”.
This is not common anymore, but the current hazing rituals are just as bad or worse and it has gone wrong many times. It’s hard to actually find out what the current hazing rituals are and these are different per university. But there are many examples of “ontgroeningen” gone wrong.
In 1997 a student named “Reinout Pfeiffer” died in Groningen after participating in a hazing ritual. He had to prove that he was good enough to be member of the student fraternity “Vindicat Atque Polit” and in order to prove it he was told to drink one liter of gin. He was supposed to puke afterwards, but attempts of making him puke failed. He died in his sleep after an epileptic seizure.
Also in 1997 another “nul” died after a hazing ritual gone wrong. This happened in the same student fraternity several weeks before the death of Reinout Pfeiffer. An exhausted “Nul” was sleeping in the grass and one of the senior didn’t see him while driving a car. The end result of the hazing was a ran over “nul”. In order to prevent these kinds of things from happening again the fraternity announced that “nullen” now are obligated to have at least 6 hours of sleep between the hazing rituals.
In 2005 there was another incident which resulted in a Nul being in coma. He had to prove himself for the fraternity of “Albertus Magnus” and drink six liters of water. It was already illegal to drink alcohol during these rituals, but apparently the students didn’t think that drinking six liters of water could do harm too.
In 2010 there was another incident, again this happened in Groningen. A student got second and third degree burning wounds after being lit on fire wearing a Santa Claus costume. He saved his life by jumping in to water. After this incident the hazing rituals continued and nearly 40 hours after the incident they decided to bring him to the hospital.
Hazing in Thailand
The practice of hazing in Thailand goes under the acronym SOTUS. Which stands for Seniority, Order, Tradition, Unity and Spirit, it is also called Rab Nong which means welcoming the young. And in Thailand it takes place in many different universities.
In 2015 senior students at Chiang Mai University came in publicity after Pictures of the bruises of freshies appeared on social media. Students in Thailand during hazing are at worst being stripped naked, sexually harassed , beaten or for example forced to crawl through dirty water. It doesn’t really look like a nice welcome, like the word Rab Nong suggests.
In 2005 a student named ‘Phokhai Saengrojrat’ from Pathumthani Technical College died. He was forced to drink an alcoholic drink after having his face pushed into the sand. It was because of this that he suffcicated. The Bangkok Coconuts reported the following about this incident:
“A 16-year-old freshman of a Pathumthani college died yesterday west of Bangkok after participating in a beachside hazing ritual.
A group of students dropped the boy’s body off at a Hua Hin hospital emergency room and quickly left after telling medical staff that he had drowned. Emergency room staff discovered the student had been dead for an hour. The boy had been one of 40 students participating in hazing activities for freshmen, also known as rub nong, on Sai Noi Beach. Manager identified the school as the Pathum Thani Technical College.”
Since then there have been several other deaths. In 2008 for example a student from ‘Uthenthawai University’ died. He also died from injuries he sustained during a hazing ritual.
On the social networks in Thailand have been full of discussion about these kinds of rituals and deaths. And many pictures and stories are being shared. There are for example photos of 10 shirtless freshmen participating in humiliating rituals including one photo of activities where a freshman is having flames sprayed on his buttocks.
There are other photos which show freshmen being forced to lie on the ground just in the water of a beach. They have their hands tied around their back and have to do pushups in the water. Other photos show the new recruits being forced to lie on the ground with their hands tied around their back and doing push-ups in water. The poster of these photos also posted a video of the freshmen being told to transfer food between each other’s mouths. This was of course for the amusement of the seniors.
Also another student of Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University told that she was burned during the long-running “candle burning tradition.” These hazing are of course not mandatory, but the freshmen feel obligated to participate. With not participating come the risks of being blacklisted, socially excluded or banned by other students.
Kollawach Doklumjiak, 22 tells about his experiences at his Bangkok vocational college. At vocational colleges the violence seems to be the worst. Freshmen are beaten and forced to eat lit cigarettes or having firecrackers inserted in their bottoms. One of his friends cannot have sex anymore after his penis was burned by a candle.
He explains that the vocational schools function like gangs. There is an intense rivalry between the colleges and this often ends in an all out war over territory. In 2012 there were 1.222 cases of violence reported to the Bangkok police and this included 20 deaths and serious injuries. He tells that some of his fellow students carry guns and assault other students.
One time he saw a fellow student highjack a college bus of a reversal school. He says that he also takes part in the ongoing violence but only when he has to defend himself. He further explains that hazing rituals create groups or gangs and outsiders. This creates a sense of us versus them. “ It is all about the power” he explains.
In my opinion this takes Thailand to another level than Holland and makes Thailand the winner and the worst concerning hazing rituals. If you do not agree with me, feel free to post your winner below in the comment section.