With the public’s differences of opinion regarding the country’s politics, Chulalongkorn University fully recognizes that having diverse political perspectives is essential.
The university believes in using the principle of altruism and facts to solve social conflicts, and backs all attempts with the university’s commitment towards social responsibility.
Professor Emeritus Surichai Wun’gaeo, Director for the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University, speaks about the conflict from diverse views and shares how Chula is working to redefine on-campus activities to support the freedom of expression for members of the Chula community, so long as it remains within the parameters of the constitution and the law.
Following a meeting to consider guidelines for on-campus activities and freedom of expression for the Chula community, the following conclusions have been drafted:
- The acceptance of different viewpoints in society and bestowing trust and respect to others are vital conditions for people to stay together and move forward to the future.
- The problem is not with the difference of opinion but arises when conflicting views and beliefs are distorted into violence. As a result, using conventional conflict resolution tools, like authority or regulations, may not be enough, and tools that reflect cooperation will be more appropriate.
- Any pre-judgments based mainly on one’s preference or viewpoint will only lead to hatred, violence, and a dead-end. The conflict from the difference in opinion must be toned down by expanding the knowledge and understanding for all sides. When considering additional factors such as age gaps and personal values, the resolution will require both academic and multi-disciplinary approaches.
The proposed action plan can be divided into three phases:
Short term: The university will develop confidence in exchanging perspectives for the future. The university will work to provide an open atmosphere for listening and the discussion of freedom and rules of expression within the university premises, whether made by students, professors, or alumni. Such activities may include seminars, brainstorming sessions, and so forth.
In this regard, the university ground can and may be used with permission and the highest security available. Moreover, the university will support new general courses related to rights, freedom, liberty, and responsible practices in the digital world.
Medium term: The university encourages all faculties and departments to carry out self-monitoring and promote multidisciplinary studies on new topics, such as freedom and responsibility in a world of risks, the power of youth (Youthquake) to change the world, generation gaps and the power of society in the digital age, with applicable findings integrated into relevant coursework and activities.
Long term: The future of the country depends on the social learning that takes place while inequality is being resolved without violence. The university believes that factual information, education and knowledge, and creating a collaborative network, will help resolve conflicts, and foster understanding and acceptance of opinion that may be at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Lastly, Emeritus Professor Surichai Wun’gaeo, former committee member for the National Reconciliation Commission and expert on social issues of marginalization and globalization, shares that despite the difficult circumstances that have happened, like the COVID-19 that is being experienced by all, Chulalongkorn University will quickly work to create a space for knowledge, make moves for social learning and mutual resolutions.