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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

As Bangkok University Seeks Return to Normal, students Chart an Alternative Course

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At Bangkok University, a standard meeting of students would typically be disconcerting. There would be new students, freshly minted, and old students, mostly from the more elite schools, who never donned their uniforms (and then quickly ironed them) or had their truncheons taken off.

But this meeting was different. The administrative coordinator was gone, taken off the job by the military junta that seized power on May 22, just six months after the general election that had set back Thailand’s economic recovery and restored a pro-democracy government.

So students decided to call in “useless” appointments in his place. The meeting ended up being last, and the students were left debating about their next steps.

“Our university president might say that we must defer doing the work of the office that was abandoned,” one student said during an interview Wednesday evening. “But no one’s really going to tell us, it’s up to us. It’s up to us whether we use the campus to send a message.”

Without incident, dozens of students walked out of school and gathered outside a nearby bar, where they sang the national anthem, did push-ups on the pavement and passed around round copies of the Thai Constitution. Later, some stayed outside the Armed Forces Club, the faculty’s main building, which is the main target of much of the anger over the coup.

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