Last night around 10pm, I entered a parallel dimension.
Or at least, that's what it felt like. The rest of the world actually entered it two hours earlier, but I had taken a twitter hiatus to watch BBC quiz shows and MasterChef. I came back to twitter to find @UniversitiesUK had gone into some sort of bizarre meltdown (rogue? playing games? drunk? Trump? incompetent? No one seemed to know).
For those of you that missed it, here's a recap. The upshot of it was that after day 1 of mediated talks (Monday/yesterday), UCU was saying "we'll stay here day and night until we sort something out", while UUK was saying "Eh, sorry, we're busy. How about Wednesday?" Or, another version, "Um, we haven't actually done our homework yet, can we get an extension?" But around 8pm yesterday evening, all of a sudden the tables were turned. UUK was saying they'd meet "any time, any place!" The following "found poem" is taken directly from their tweets:
Whether through incompetence or malice, this meant we were being dicked around:
With every single tweet @universitiesUK loses any credibility that they have student needs at the fore. They are directly responsible now for every lost teaching hour.— Striking Doctor Logic (@SaraLUckelman) March 5, 2018
Making it clear that they really don't actually care about the students or the effects of drawing out the strike on them.— Striking Doctor Logic (@SaraLUckelman) March 5, 2018
I was -- and still am -- so angry. (I was so livid, I was rage-eating ice cream. Finished the tub and then still needed a dram of bourbon before bed.)
By the time I went to bed, no one had any idea what UUK's tweets meant. I didn't have time to check social media when I got up in the morning, but looked forward to everyone's speculation on the picket line. It wasn't until our two hours were up and a few of us had repaired to a cafe to warm up that we found out that UUK actually meant it -- talks resumed today. (Of course, they still hadn't done their homework, so none of us were sure what they'd be talking about. My guess was the weather. It's a very British topic of conversation, and we've had plenty of it lately.)
I hadn't expected to picket every day. I have other, non-work/academic, projects that I'd happily spend my strike days working on (and I'm sure my husband would like it if I spent at least some of my time at home tidying the house. Maybe next week). But I have found that it is such a haven of collegiality and friendship and -- yes -- joy, that I keep going back. I have found, the last three weeks, that I am forging connections and making friends that transcend my department, and when we are back to work, I'm pretty sure we will all be going back to our universities with a transformed outlook. I hate that these bonds have to be forged this way, but when things are over, I will be glad that these bonds have been forged. I truly feel like I am part of a universitas, something universal, and not just the lone logician not really fitting in to a department of philosophers or pretending to be a medievalist amongst a bunch of real medievalists.
I'm lucky that if I have to be on strike, I get to do it with some pretty amazing people.