Ben-Gurion University launches appeal to save the class of COVID-19

The university is raising a fund to support students in their studies as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Mai Tannen, a student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev whose studies were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. (photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)
Mai Tannen, a student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev whose studies were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is urging members of the public to support the launch of its multi-million dollar 'Save the Class of COVID-19: SOS Coronavirus Student Assistance Fund' campaign, helping students at the university weather the financial storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
As students in Israel enroll in their studies following their army service, many of BGU's students are financially independent of their families, supporting themselves and funding their courses with jobs worked around their studies. However, the pandemic caused many of them to lose their jobs, putting their ongoing studies in jeopardy.
Others are concerned that there will be no work for them to go to when they graduate.
“I’m finding myself in very uncertain times, where jobs are just not coming. You feel that you have something to offer and that you're good at what you do – but that doesn't matter," Mai Tannen, a 3rd year Politics and Government student told the university.
Mai spent her first semester in Italy at the Uni of Sienna and returned for further studies in March, just as the coronavirus was taking hold there. Concerned for her health, her family and professors encouraged her to return to Beersheba, but, she said, the contrast was notable as everything had shut down to prevent spread of the virus.
"It's a difficult time, and I’m very scared about the future. How am I going to support myself financially?" she asked. "I feel like the ground is shaking below me."
The shift from classes in person to online ones has also posed serious challenges for the students, many of whom have struggled to find the motivation to self-manage their learning amid the emotional turmoil and uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
Amir Lorach, a 4th year Industrial Engineering and Management student, lost his job to the lockdown and had to give up his apartment due to financial difficulties, moving in with his girlfriend to save money. The upheaval posed serious problems for Amir, who has been diagnosed with ADHD. He found it difficult to manage his schedule studying online, and was staying up late into the night to make up for lost classes.
These stresses manifested in chest pains, dizzy spells and losing track of time, making studying even more difficult. He is now considering whether to continue in his studies next year.
"This potential loss of students could have insurmountable effects on our society and our world," BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz said.
Recalling the impact BGU has already had on the world – the head of Israel's Health Ministry and his deputy are both alumni, as is the chief scientific officer of a Boston company developing a coronavirus vaccine – Chamovitz said he wanted today's young people to have the same opportunities to excel and make an impact on the world.
"I want to be positive. I want to ensure that every student who wants to prove themselves – every student who thinks they have the ability – shall come to BGU and realize their potential," he said.
"We have a responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind."

More information on the fund and how to donate can be found