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.

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)

They may take my student card, but they'll never take my curiousity.

It occurred to me today – in the fifth week of my third and final year – that Bar Ilan won’t always be a part of my life.

Ok, allow me to rephrase: I won’t always be a registered student.

The only time I haven’t been a registered student – since the early 80s – was the year I made aliyah, and I felt a definite lacking.

As much as I complain about the hassle, let’s face it: Being a student is a part of who I am. I love learning. I’m always curious. I grew up on PBS. To this day, I watch documentaries about anything – fertility treatment, the Big Bang, ancient Rome – in my free time.

So this year of studies probably won’t mark the end of my student career. I think my student status – even sans student card – will carry on for life. Curiousity is my life sentence, and I embrace it every day. I already have plans for the next phase of formal education, though I may hold off for a year or so.

But there’s no reason for me to worry; I’ll continue learning past Bar Ilan. It’ll just be – let’s hope – with less hassle.

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!

Organizationally challenged.

I’m taking a class this semester on conflict in organizational structure. Doesn’t seem like it’ll be that difficult; the professor is friendly and the material is familiar.

So far I’m finding it quite entertaining, actually: being taught organizational conflict – in Israel – by a middle-age tzabar, a gever-gever who served more than his fair share of army and is the right mix of balding and pot belly to complete the image.

What does a tzabar know about conflict in organizations? If he established the country, then possibly a lot. If he was second generation – like this guy – who knows. He grew up surrounded by the blossoming organizational structure and bureaucracy we know today. He also uses the army and kibbutzim in all of his examples and boasts about his poor English.

All I know is: Maybe I’ll finally get some answers, being taught organizational conflict in this organizational-challenged country by the ultimate Israeli…

My professors are on strike.


University professors to strike as of Sunday

Well, here we go again. Sort of. Last time it was the students striking over fee hikes. This time it’s the faculty striking for pay hikes.

C’mon guys… I have one more year – 3 credits – to finish. All I want to do is get my diploma so I can roll it and smoke it. Is that so wrong?

Back to – what?

Remember when I said I was taking my last final ever?

Kidding! I’m going back to school. A couple more teachers, a few more books. Lots and lots more dirty looks… at my disappointing experience studying at Bar Ilan University.

In the end of August I decided to switch from the thesis track to the internship track and finish my degree by summer 2008 instead of indefinitely. That’s the goal, anyway. I’m looking forward to a more ‘hands-on’ experience and a lot less procrastinating.

And to kick me right back into the school-year spirit, today I found this article in my inbox:

University heads, faculty threaten strike over funds dispute

Ah, yes. It’s all coming back. Here’s to another (and, really, my last) academic, year-long nightmare attending BIU.