Friday, 3 August 2007

Universiade Update

Athletes and support staff have been arriving for the past few days. An air of excitement is building. And the place is crawling with police, soldiers and other types of security.

I am fairly disappointed in one aspect of the security. An 8 foot high chain link fence has been erected around the perimeter of the dormitories where the athletes are staying. The only problem is that the handful of buildings where teachers and other staff at Thammasat live, have been left outside that perimeter.

I don't know what I was really expecting. Since we are all employed at the university and they are hosting the event, I somehow thought that our movement wouldn't have been as restricted as it is. And man, is it ever restricted.

What was a 2 minute walk to the nearest 7/11 (there are about 10 on this huge, sprawling campus) has become about a 40 minute round trip journey. I guess as we aren't athletes it makes some sense but still, there could have been gates built and guards posted with special passes given to employees, but no. Many people are rightfully upset for how their lives are being disrupted.

I've made the Olympics analogy before. While it's on a vastly smaller scale, it is still interesting how Universiade 2007 is mimicking the Olympics in so many ways. Just as a group of people are inevitably displaced by construction for the world-wide spectacle held every 4 years, so too the employees living on the Thammasat campus are being disregarded.

What I dislike about it most is I had been looking forward to mingling with and meeting many of the athletes. Looks like that probably won't happen now.

A bit more on the security. Routine is the enemy of security. If you are going to implement expensive and extensive measures, you better make sure those involved are well-trained and unafraid to stop and approach anyone. And there should be enough people to patrol the entire length of the fence. If there isn't, a person could easily vault over the fence in a few seconds, make a quick purchase at the 7/11 and be back in their room in a few minutes instead of making that insane hike. Not that anyone's doing that...

I should have some more photos up tomorrow.

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