Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How I Spent the Summer Banging My Head Against a Brick Wall of Bureaucratic Futility, pt. 3

Every year, I empty out my bank account in order to pay the down payment on my tuition (some 4,000 shekels). Then I apply to minhal hastudentim (the illustrious “student authority” for new immigrants) for a refund on my money, invariably messing up my paperwork since they've changed the system without informing me. One year, I had to bring in all of my documents in person (along with all the other immigrant students in the city of Jerusalem, creating a line that even the post office would be proud of). The next year they fired all the staff and created an email account for all the aforementioned students to scan and send all their documents to, creating an electronic backlog that took the one guy still working there months to get through.
This year, they decided to make the system more efficient and created an online form to be filled out, with all necessary documents to be uploaded. After having sent all my documents via the former method (the email address), I received an email with a link to this new form. A non-functional link to the form, I may add. The link consisted of a picture of the log in screen, but nothing happened when I clicked it. I tried again with another browser but no dice.
I waited until the next day and tried again. This time the link opened up to a box requesting my ID number. The “continue” button on the bottom led to a screen requesting my ID number, email address, and date of birth. When I filled in my details, a window popped up saying that my details were incorrect. This was perplexing to me since I'm quite certain about such details as my ID number, email address, and date of birth. There's not a lot of room for uncertainty there.
I sent an email imparting my woes and disclosing my imminent bankruptcy were this matter not to be taken care of immediately, and my money refunded to me. I got a response inquiring whether I had perhaps clicked on the link for new students as opposed to continuing students. I relayed my assurances that I had definitely not clicked on the wrong link and was quite sure that I had typed in the correct details. I received a reply a week later saying that they would check it out.
Meanwhile, I had received an email from another department of the student authority (most likely a woman sitting in the office next door to the one guy who checks the emails) that I had to do 120 hours of community service over the next year in order to receive funding for my studies, and fill out and return the attached forms in order to be placed with an organization. Which was also quite perplexing seeing as I did my community service hours last semester and as far as I understood, they would only foot the bill for 3 years. Considering that the second semester of the upcoming year will actually be my seventh semester, I had assumed that I was on my own for that one. I replied to the email, outlining my concerns and politely inquiring what in G-d's name they wanted from my life, and upon not receiving any reply whatsoever, sent another few emails along the same vein over the next few weeks before finally deciding that I had more pressing matters to deal with (the bank and class registration). It took another month or so before the coordinator actually called me on the phone to question me about my situation. She asked me if the government was financing my last semester and I told her I had no idea, since no one had kept me informed of such matters and why the hell was she asking me, anyway? She's the government bureaucrat, not me. She rang off, saying she still didn't understand whether I was supposed to be reimbursed for the last semester or not, but that she'd look into it. I'm sure she either promptly forgot or is at the bottom of a canyon in Peru, seeing as I haven't heard from her since. I did finally fill out the form and email it back to them with another inquiry about how many hours I was supposed to do if any, and whether or not the last semester will be paid for, just in case. As usual, I'm not too optimistic about the chances of anyone having any idea what's going on and getting back to me on the issue, but such is life (or at least such is government offices).
A week or so ago, I tried again to get into the link to minhal hastudentim's new and improved online form on a whim and was suddenly granted access to the mystical and somewhat capricious form. I was quite excited that I'd finally be able to fill it out and get reimbursed for the down payment to Hebrew U, until I got to the part where I needed to upload a certificate of study confirming that I'm a current student. Which I wasn't going to be able to get until signing up for classes.

That, right there, is the point where I started banging my head against the wall.

1 comment: