School break will be over soon. It means the euphoria of going back to school is started. In few days, students are getting busy preparing their school days and going back to campus. One of the traditions is having an orientation week, or popular known as ‘ospek’.
In general, ‘ospek’ aims at introducing newly admitted first year students into their new campus atmosphere academically, socially and culturally. It means that there are such process-oriented activities in which later they will have a clear depiction about academic environment, social life and cultural differences.
Yet, the practice of ‘ospek’ has destroyed the sanctity of its principles. During the orientation program, the upperclassmen who have legitimate rights from campus, mistreat their rights. They welcome freshmen by making them fit into the school community. In doing so, they subject their juniors to verbal and physical abuse.
Some factors may nurture this typical orientation program. Firstly, it is seen as a campus tradition that has been inherited for decades. This is becoming the most prominent reason why this ‘ospek’ is mushrooming and continuously being implemented by the latter generation.
Secondly, it deals with public approval. It may be surmised, public grant this typical orientation as a part of educational system. Even, it is reflected in the condition in which parents help their children preparing for ‘ospek’.
Lastly, it is related to the psychological acknowledgment both positively and negatively. Some may enjoy the practice of ‘ospek’ and try to act up in order to appeal their senior attention, while the others are frightening.
However, one of the incidents that finally resulted a public criticism was the death of a student at a state institution during the orientation program in 2007. The parents, who reported the abusive acts, were able to raise the public awareness. Since then, it has been accounted for deadly incidents. Students at some universities were reportedly dead during the orientation program.
Of course, this deadly orientation program has been breaking the Indonesian Law Number 23 Year 2002 article 54 on child protection “Children attending school must be protected against violence and abuse from teachers, school managers, schoolmates both in the schools and in other educational institutions”. Not to mention, it is a crime.
It is of note that there are no conditions and reasons that allow violence and abuse to happen.
Indeed, ‘ospek’ which has been growing for years left big scars and created new stigma for society. It leads to the negative stereotypes in which ‘ospek’ is interconnected to injustice and discrimination. And, it causes parents become more cautious before sending their children to some institutions.
To surmount this problem, it is crucial to bring the concept of ‘ospek’ back to its khittah. In its origin word, khittah is defined as underlying principles or roots.
In principle, ‘ospek’ should function as a means to provide incoming students an initial understanding about campus life as a place to seek knowledge, cultivate intellectual curiosity or critical thinking and promote social responsibilities.
We may reflect from other cultures and learn how other campuses around the world host the orientation program and welcome their new students. Some good examples, like having a campus tour to know the program and facilities offered by the university or participating games held by the orientation leaders. All programs make the transition from school life to campus life are more comfortable and smooth.
Needless to say, it is very different with the practice of ospek in Indonesia. It is far from what so-called as verbal and physical abuse and it is close to intellectual and social opportunities.
Hence, it triggers a new controversial issue in society whether it is useful or useless tradition? Whether it is needed to be erased or not? In my opinion, let ospek return to its khittah.
There are two practical methods to do so. Firstly, implementing the new practice of ospek would necessitate more social control. Those who send their children to school need to be aware with the school life. Parents are required to have intense communication with their children and ask simple questions. How did you enjoy your orientation today? Did your seniors treat you well?
Secondly, teachers/lecturers, staff, and school board members need to be sensitive and responsive with hazing orientation program. If it is necessary, they should cut the upperclassmen legitimate power and take over the orientation focus. Thus, the program is on the right track.