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Life around the world

Chile's unusual university initiation

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Are you planning to go to university? What do you think your responsibilities will be in the first few weeks? Perhaps you will be choosing the classes you want to take, finding accommodation and enrolling in other activities. However, if you go to university in Chile there is something extra you must do before you can begin …

An essential part of starting university in Chile is the mechoneo. Mechoneo is an ancient university tradition here. Students beginning their first year at university are 'welcomed' by the older university students. They are taken from their classrooms on an unknown day and blindfolded. The older students rip their clothes, cut their hair, and cover them in raw eggs and other disgusting things. They are then taken to a place such as a swimming pool filled with horrible things such as old fruit, vegetables, meat and fish from the markets. They have to do games and dares and challenges for a whole day, which may include some really revolting things like kissing a dead fish!

The 'queen mechona' and 'king mechon' are chosen that day. This will be based on how well the students do the activities, and many students try very hard as they want to be king or queen for the year. The older students then take away the younger students’ things (their backpacks, money, phone, etc.) and tell them they must go out onto the street and ask people for money. They will need to bring back a certain amount of money (e.g. 15,000 pesos per person, or around 20 dollars) in order to be given their things back. This money is then used to have a massive welcome party in the night time.

During the month of March it is common to see new university students all around town wearing ripped-up, dirty clothes and covered in paint and mess. But the mechoneo is increasingly a source of controversy and debate. Some students see it as an important tradition and a unique experience that helps new arrivals get to know everyone, while others find it degrading and humiliating, like a form of bullying. There have been campaigns to ban or soften it in favour of more 'positive welcomes', and student organisations in some universities have voted to end the mechoneo completely. From what I've seen on the streets, though, for now the tradition is still very much alive!


What's your opinion of the mechoneo? Do you think it sounds fun or frightening?


fast_and_curious's picture
fast_and_curious 8 July, 2020 - 07:30

In my view, this tradition is totally absurd that causes students to lower their self-esteem.
This way of treating other humans is inhumane, students join universities in order to grow and learn. This treatment would have a bad impact on their personalities and they would tend to learn negativity and a sense of revenge as, they would think it is right to bully freshers because they were treated the same way.
This act sounds frightening because, the future of a country majorly relies on the youth of the country. The youth learning this kind of behaviour is being lead towards the downfall of the nation.

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SLMT's picture
SLMT 16 June, 2017 - 08:50

I also think this kind of fresher welcome is bad.It's just like bullying.If I have to attend this kind of party,it will be remained as nightmare in my life.I don't dare to ask money to absolutely strangers.I also don't like getting rip .Seniors are like hooligans. It's absolutely obey human rights. This kind of party must be banned in Chile.I don't want students's first day at university change into nightmare.

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Sergelen's picture
Sergelen 6 May, 2017 - 06:05

This is so wrong, because there is no human rights. All people must be equal rights.

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