In the heart of Pathumwan district, a storm is brewing – not one brought about by the changing season, but by the moving tides of education and tradition. It was November 1 last year when the air at Uthenthawai campus was thick with more than just the humidity of Bangkok; it was filled with the fervent protests of students past and present. With banners held high and voices echoing through the corridors, they united under one cause: to challenge the impending relocation of their alma mater. A poignant moment captured and frozen in time by the lens of Wichan Charoenkiatpakul, painting a picture of determination and unity.
But why this upheaval? This resistance? Enter stage left: The Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-Ok, Uthenthawai Campus, facing a directive that has rippled through its foundations. The decree, handed down by none other than the Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Minister Supamas Isarabhakdi, was clear and uncompromising. In an address at Government House, she announced that Uthenthawai was to halt admissions for the upcoming 2024 academic year, a prelude to a move away from the bustling streets of Pathumwan district. The reason? A curtain call on the violence that shadowed its name, stemming from long-standing inter-school rivalries.
But alas, the tale is not so simple. The Uthenthawai saga is a twisted vine of history, ambition, and conflict. The echoes of rivalry reach far back, to clashes between students of Uthenthawai and their counterparts from nearby Pathumwan Institute of Technology. A feud that has, over time, escalated from mere scuffles to tragedies. The violence claimed lives, leaving a scar on the community – a first-year Uthenthawai student fell in a shooting in Klong Toey district, and just last Friday, a confrontation before the Pathumwan Institute of Technology saw another young life snuffed out prematurely.
In the face of adversity, the minister’s promise rings clear – a pledge of vigilance for the anniversary of Uthenthawai campus come February 1. Yet, amidst this turmoil lies a story of generations. The campus itself sits on a slice of history, 20 rai of land leased from Chulalongkorn University since 1935; a contract that has outlived its term since 2003, leaving the institutions in a quiet tango over its fate.
The proposed relocation to Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan was a beacon of hope – 36 rai and 200 million baht allocated for a new beginning. An agreement inked with Chulalongkorn University marked September 30, 2005, as the date of departure. Yet, like any great drama, the plot thickened. The relocation stalled, the students opposed, and Uthenthawai stood still, a monument to resilience against the winds of change.
Thus, our tale weaves through the corridors of time, a narrative of conflict, tradition, and the unyielding spirit of youth. Uthenthawai campus, with its storied past and uncertain future, remains a poignant reminder of the complexities that lie at the intersection of education, heritage, and community. As the next chapter unfolds, one thing is certain: the legacy of Uthenthawai and its students will not be easily forgotten. They stand, a fortress of defiance, their voices a testament to the power of unity in the face of adversity.