On March 28, 55 days ago, Pesach recess began. And it will finish only on Thursday.
The representatives of the various student unions finally mustered a vote last night, which unlike three previous voting attempts, was not disrupted by belligerent students who are intent on continuing the strike, citing the continued inadequate offers from the government. Because of these disruptions, voting was planned, but could not be held on either Saturday or Sunday night. The representatives attempted to evade the protesters by surreptiously changing venues, but the protesters would quickly discover and converge on the new location. For the vote last night, the student representatives hired a security firm to facilitate smooth proceedings. The vote was carried out successfully, with more than 60% of the delegates voting to accept the government’s latest offer and end the strike.
Unfortunately, it appears that students in this academic year will have a heavy price to pay for their benevolence, in both tolerating duration of the strike and implicitly supporting its aims. This strike was never about the current generation of students. The government made it quite clear in its first offers to the students that the higher tuition would be “grandfathered in” and apply only to the next generation of students. It is those students and their parents, as well as future students and their parents, who should have been leading the strike. Not students who stand to gain nothing, i.e., us.
This imposed altruism cost us, the students of today, over one month of the semester and has also created an erosion of faith in the student government. We will pay for the watered down agreement with a semester that will now extend long into July, extended class hours (some classes will go until midnight!), classes on Friday, and an exam period which ends around Rosh Hashana. One of the principal aims of the strike was to bring tuition to an affordable level for all students. This aim was not achieved, and irreparable financial harm will now be inflicted on those students who designate the summer months as the period in which they take jobs in order to afford tuition and the cost of living.
The National Union of Israeli Students, the organization which led the strike, though its director himself attends an institution which did not strike (!), will no doubt declare victory and highlight the concessions of the government. In doing so, they will have emulated the government’s penchant for doing the same: declaring victory where they are the unambiguous loser, and leaving the citizens/students to pay the price.