In an unrelated rant, if I were forced to evaluate Thammasat’s security, I would give it a shining 100%– nay, 110%! But in terms of resources for students? A golden goose-egg. A big fat zero. An aggrevating students should not have access to campus resources nothing. At all times, unless a class is in session, classrooms are locked. There’s not a class? Well, then, lock it up! You never know when a student might sneak into one of those empty room and, gast, do school work or something even more scandalous! The bathroom, similarly, are all locked at night, with the exception of one or two, usually on the bottom floor of an eight story building. This makes NO sense, seeing as how there’s nothing (not even toilet paper) in the bathrooms that could possibly be stolen. Similarly (and I assume this is true of all Thammasat activities) my Speaker’s Union club must finish by 7:00PM sharp, because, despite being paid Thammasat staff, the coach doesn’t have keys to the rooms, and the janitor shows up at 7:00PM to lock the room.
There’s one nice, big field on the Tha Prachan campus (my campus– Thammasat has two). Unfortunately, this is the soccer field. Not that I’ve ever seen anybody else on the field. No, I’ve never seen anyone on the field, because the rules are plain: if you’re not playing soccer for Thammasat, that’s not your field. Do no walk on grass.
What started this rant, however, is the fact that, at 4:30PM every day, the campus wireless network is shut off. Well, I should clarify– the only thing that’s turned off is the internet access– everything else remains on. And why 4:30? Classes go until 5:00. Christ. WHY?!?
AND the library! I don’t know who’s idea it was to ban book-bags in the library, but I think whoever it is, s/he should be sumarily shot in the back of the head, while holding an unruly pile of books and papers. Let’s think about this: I want to go to the library to study. Unless I should want to, say, study my hands, or perhaps study that cute Thai girl that just walked in ahead of me (hypothetical, mind you!)… no, no. Lets assume that I go to the library for something remotely academic. In such a case, I might need to bring my BOOKS with me. Well, fortunately, in the great wisdom of the library administration, outside books are allowed in the library. Papers, pens and pencils, too. How gracious of the library staff! Backpacks, bags, hand-grenades, boom-boxes, bookbags, and other distracting objects, however, are simply not allowed. If one attempts to bring one’s backpack in, there will be a sudden outburst of nasally-pitched Thai (“HIII! YA-HE-TII-YI-NII!”) accompanied by ardent gesticulation. Eventually, one figures out that the problem is one’s backpack. Or boombox. Or hand-grenade. One is directed to the row of mini-lockers on the far wall, and I hope you brought your own lock, because you can’t just rent things like that, you know.
And yes– it’s not like you can just walk into the library (beacuse, after all, an unauthorized person who does NOT pay tuition to support Thammasat’s dimminuative library might sneak in, read a book and LEARN something. This isn’t a university, after all, this is Thammasat, Inc. Our goal isn’t to educate, it’s to MAKE MONEY!! Wait… I seem to have something confused here.). Wow. But back to trying to get in the library. There’s a person who sits at the turn-stile entrance and ensures that every person who enters the library swipes their student ID card. The turn-stile is locked until the guard is sufficiently satisfied that the student actually is a student, at which time the turn-stile is momentarily unlocked to allow the student (or rogue with a fake ID!) to pass through, at which time it is locked until the next ID is scanned.
Of course, the no-book-bag policy might make some sense if the books weren’t magnetized, and if there weren’t detector posts that you had to walk through on your way out of the library. But there are. So even you were that one Thai in Thailand who actually steals things, and you had stashed a book away in your contraband bookbag, alarms and sirens would go off when you tried to leave the library.
I guess I can see where they’re coming from: when you only have twenty or thirty books, the theft of one book is a BIG DEAL! It’s not an exaggeration to say that my high-school had as many English-language books as Thammasat does. English and Thai books combined, the Thammasat library is the equal of one floor of Montana States’s Renne library. And Montana State’s Library is far from impressive, even for a state university. But imagine what it could be if it received the same annual funding that MSU’s athletic program! But that rant belongs to someone else.
In the last week I’ve been interviewed twice by Thammasat students for a PR class. One of the questions I’ve been asked both times is what do I like about Thammasat. I regret to admit that I’ve been a little taxed to answer. But here’s a couple things I like about Thammasat:
1) It’s a nice campus. Where not completely congested by cars (yes, Thammasat does have a parking garage), Thammasat how flowers and trees and statues.
2) It’s a historic campus. On Octber 14th, 1973 the Thai military brutally supressed a demonstration at Thammasat, where students had gathered to demand a constitution. In addition to releasing tear gas, soldiers fired on the crowd. Although a constitution was eventually esablished as a result of the protests (which had been on-going since June of the same year), the victory was short lived. On October 8th 1976, students again gathered in protest at Thammasat, this time in reponse to the return to Thailand of Thanom Kittikachorn, who had headed the military dictatorship in Thailand from 1964 to 1973. Police and right-wing parliamentary groups assualted the 2000 students holding a sit-in. Hundreds of students were killed or injured in the confrontation, and over 1000 were arrested. The sit-in bitterly turned on the students when, “using public disorder as an excuse, the military stepped in and installed a new right-wing government.” This complete failure lead to widespread student and intellectual disillusionment.