Stop playing with my heart.

Amidst my packing the apartment, my husband calls to me: “Looks like you got too sad too early.”

Lecturers’ strike ends

“The Coordinating Council of the Faculty Associations and the Treasury have come to an agreement ending the 89-day strike which has threatened the academic school year.

After marathonic overnight negotiations, the parties have agreed to sign an agreement outlined by Ofer Eini, Chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation and detailing the various wage increases and lecturers’ pension rights.” (ynet)

There, you see that? Can’t we all be friends? Apparently, university begins again on Sunday, but I’m going to find it hard to trust again.And I have two good reasons why:

“But the academic crisis, it seems, is not completely over: The Junior Faculty Association announced a national labor dispute Friday.”

“The JFA claims it wants to attain an wage increase for junior lecturers and “guest lecturers” in various universities, similar to that commanded by senior faculty in the agreement ending the lecturers’ strike.”

And:

“The Student Union, however, has announced that should the implementation of the recommendations of Shochat Committee for reform in higher education be included in the agreement in the last minute – they will go on strike themselves.”

Bar Ilan University has shut its doors…

…and it’s libraries, laboratories and offices.

I just got a notice; if you’re a student it might interest you:

בשל שביתת המרצים הבכירים הופסקה באופן מעשי פעילות ההוראה של הסגל הבכיר באוניברסיטאות זה כ- 87 יום

לאור העובדה שהצדדים למו”מ אינם מצליחים לגשר על הפערים, הגיע ועד ראשי האוניברסיטאות למסקנה האוניברסיטאות אינן מוכנות לקבל מהסגל האקדמי הבכיר שירותים חלקיים.

לפיכך החליט ועד ראשי האוניברסיטאות לסגור את האוניברסיטאות ובהן גם את אוניברסיטת בר אילן, החל מיום א’ י”ג בשבט תשס”ח 20.1.2008 בשעה 8:00 ועד לתום השביתה.

על-מנת שלא לפגוע בלימודיהם של הסטודנטים שלמדו בסמסטר הראשון, החליט ועד ראשי הא וניברסיטאות לאפשר קיומם של הבחינות, למרות שהקמפוס יהיה סגור לכל פעילות אחרת.

לאור האמור, כל הבחינות יתקיימו במועדן כפי שפורסם.

ייתכנו שינויים במיקום חדרי הבחינות והנכם מתבקשים לעקוב אחר מיקום הבחינה בלוחות המודעות בכניסה בניין נייגל 507 ביום הבחינה.

לידיעתכם: ספריות, המעבדות, חדרי ההוראה, המחלקות האקדמיות וכל היחידות המינהליות תהיינה סגורות.

מוקד מידע טלפוני: עומד לרשות הסטודנטים בטלפון: 03-5318508

ציבור הסטודנטים מתבקש לעקוב אחר ההודעות שיפורסמו בכלי התקשורת ובאתר האינטרנט של האוניברסיטה.

הנהלת האוניברסיטה מקווה שיווצרו במהרה התנאים שיאפשרו חזרה לפעילות תקינה ומלאה של האוניברסיטה.

ברכה,
מנהל הסטודנטים

I’m so incredibly embarrassed; a generation of students is getting utterly screwed because adults – supposed mentors – cannot resolve this conflict.

In case you don’t read Hebrew, this essentially means that next semester is canceled indefinitely. We don’t even have the option of going to classes taught by non-senior professors. We just can’t go to school, can’t get an education, can’t move on with our schedules. We can’t even use the libraries to study on our own or complete work from last semester.

Worst of all – I finally have a car and won’t even have the opportunity to drive to school in 40 minutes as opposed to 2 hours on the bus…

The irony of studying mediation during a strike.

I received an email today from the head of the Conflict Management and Negotiation department at Bar Ilan, apologizing for the inconvenience of the strike. He is new to the position as of this year and I found his email refreshing; isn’t this what you would expect considering the focus of this department?

He explains that he understands the frustration of the collateral victims here – the students – and he notices the irony of studying conflict management in a country and time period where the leaders can’t get their act together and come to agreement. He hopes that in the meantime we are learning from the experience and that the strike will be over soon so that we can work towards entering society with the skills needed to avoid such situations in the future. He announces that the department will do as much as possible to make sure we finish our degrees with the least trouble.

Ok, I projected a bit; he didn’t necessarily say all of that, but I got his drift and very much appreciated the sentiment. It is good to know that someone at the university is thinking of us students; even if he is involved in the mediation field and he is striking himself.

An academic lizrael update.

*Yawn*. *Stretch*. It’s a sunny winter Sunday. Today is as good as any to update about the awful university situation in Israel right now.

Basically, I have no idea what is going to happen for the rest of the year because the department heads, university presidents, strikers and government don’t know. Somewhere in this giant, ridiculous, embarrassing strike the idea of education got forgotten.

We, the students, cannot plan our summers, even if some of us (me) have overdue degrees to complete, weddings to attend abroad, family to visit and life to go on.

They are talking about considering next semester (bet) as a semester aleph and the summer as a semester bet to complement it, since there are full-year classes that haven’t started yet (like mine). Then again, my department can’t plan the next steps – including courses and schedules for these semesters – because the professors on strike can’t talk about it or plan. So I can’t start finding a way to somehow finish up before the summer, using only next semester.

Well, there’s the state of academia in the State of Israel… for now.  Unfortunately, this battle isn’t over yet.

Brothers, sons, teachers, students.

Not quite street art, but temporarily tonight Keren HaYessod street was painted with the anger and frustration of local teachers:

Teacher Protest Jerusalem

The sign reads: “Brother, brother! Your son is my student!”

Sometimes, this country seems like one big block party where literally everyone is separated by a few degrees. In this case, the holders of the sign make an excellent point, bringing the strikes home for the members of the National Labor Court, which is where they were stationed tonight. The same teachers who are striking are the professionals who are currently not in classes teaching your children… Bridging the gap between lawmakers and underpaid professionals.

Now they're taking *our* semester breaks?

A little ironic after my last post, but:

Universities set to cancel vacations to make up strike time

There are so many three, four and six-letter words running through my head right now (bilingually), I can’t really write anything else.

University officials say that students will probably have to give up their semester break, and maybe also part of their summer vacation, to make up the time lost during the ongoing senior faculty strike.

The strike, now in its fifth week, has already eaten up much of the 14-week semester. As Haaretz reported last week , the Finance Ministry announced that it is transferring responsibility for negotiations with the strikers to the university presidents. Since then talks have been at a standstill, and no meeting has been scheduled.

University heads previously warned that a prolonged strike might cost students the semester, maybe even the entire year. Students are further worried by a message from the striking professors informing them that they will not be allowed any dispensation because of the strike. (Haaretz)

Students' protest; teachers' strike.

Walking to the bus stop this morning – passing the empty school on my block – I heard loud chanting and clapping and honking; it was 8 am and the kids were supposed to be school-less and asleep. When I arrived at Yochanan Ben Zakai, a healthy-sized street that borders my neighborhood, this is (a section of) what I found:

student protest

The high school girls woke up early, as if it was a school day, went to the street where they have school, and stood rallying and making noise, drawing attention to day 26 of a major teachers strike that has had a detrimental effect on this year’s education.

It’s nice that the students care enough to demand their education back. There were some teachers in the mix as well. Students and teachers together, drivers honking in support, and for the first time in a while, I got to see some unity in this place.

Cancel the semester, will stab myself.

I don’t like waking up on my one-day-a-week of school and seeing this headline:

University presidents: Semester may be canceled

And I don’t like reading this in the first paragraph:

As the third week of the university lecturers’ strike gets underway, professors are not optimistic on the chances of the protest ending anytime soon. Representatives from the senior academic staff met with Finance Ministry officials Sunday evening but no progress was reported.

Grooooan. It’s  not even so bad for me; I can work full time, make some extra cash, and load up on extra classes next semester. But… I don’t wanna.  And think about all the poor freshmen of this year and last who have only known strikes? And all the poor med students who have seven years ahead of them until they at least make a livable salary?

Is anyone else finding it funny that I’m studying mediation in a country of strikes, conflicts, diverse cultures and understandings?

Every time I meet someone new and tell them what I’m studying, their reply is always the same (and very cheery): “Well, you’re in the right place!” No. No, I am not in the right place. Because I’ll never finish my degree in Conflict Management and Negotiation due to all the… conflicts!