We’ve been accustomed to university strikes here in Israel. There is always a reason — be it the same reason that never gets solved, or a new reason that pops out just when you think that nothing’s gonna happen this time.
This past year we’ve seen a long strike arranged by the senior staff of Israel’s universities, which was resolved after a bitter conflict. The junior staff, who works harder and receives less — much less — did not initiate a full-blown strike, although it made several attempts to revive the issue in the public’s eye.
Now we’ve learned that the junior staff has finally signed a deal that would grant its thousands of members social rights and better salary. This comes as a total surprise… but I for one love good surprises.
Photo by SXC via nrg
The headline of today’s paper read “The Forgotten Strike”. They’re talking about the strike that keeps me hanging for more than two months â€“ the universities strike. At least that’s what it’s called, even though the universities’ administration is very much opposed to it.
The strikers are the senior staff of the universities. Their demand to be compensated for the erosion of lecturers’ salaries since 1997 is at the heart of the matter. The teachers’ strike that went on until recently received all media focus, and only now that it’s over the government has time to deal with the lecturers and their protest.
I study history and general studies in the Tel Aviv University (TAU â€“ we also have cool abbreviations for our schools, just like in the US. Only we don’t have football jackets to match). It happens to be that I enrolled only to courses of senior lecturers this year, and they’re all on strike. The end of the semester is one week away, and I haven’t been to a single class yet.
Supposedly, this is a student’s dream. No professors trying to distract us from our stag parties, right? Well, reality is not as youthful. The free time that has suddenly accumulated is mostly channeled to work. See, most students in Israel need to support themselves somehow.
The biggest problem is that this semester seems doomed. We are now one more semester away from graduation. It’s hard enough to work and finish the degree at the same time. A lot of students need more than 3 years to finish. I have two jobs, so I’m looking at something like 5 years. 5 and a half, thanks to the strike.
I have no intention to disregard the lecturers’ struggle. I actually support them, and so do most of the students I know. What I seriously object is the public agenda that describes students as lazy leeches, living off of their parents support and celebrating each day of the strike with a toga party and lotsa’ beer.
All we want is to reach the point of graduation with as much knowledge as possible. I haven’t even begun to describe the poor learning conditions in most faculties, but right now everything seems better than postponing the much awaited diploma. Is education too much to ask for, even when we’re paying for it?