Adalah Submits Petition to District Court Challenging Haifa University’s Discriminatory Student Housing Policy

Adalah Attorney Hassan Jabareen, assisted by Adalah Legal Apprentice Abeer Jubran, submitted the petition against Haifa University on behalf of three Arab women students whose requests for housing were denied by the University in August and September 2005. Together with the petition, Adalah also submitted a motion for temporary injunction, which asks the Court to order the University to reserve housing space for the three women students until it delivers a final decision on the case.

The Dormitory Committee at Haifa University uses a points-based system to decide which students will be granted student housing. In the fall of 2005, students scoring 61 points and above qualified for student housing in the university’s dormitories. The points-based system, which is approved by the university’s administration, is broken down into the following categories: economic situation (0-25 points), academic achievement (0-25 points), distance from the student’s home to the campus (0-28 points), and “special data” (0-25 points).

Under the category of “special data,” applicants who have participated in military or, national service or who are student soldiers are automatically granted 20 points, and applicants with army reserve service receive an additional five points. As a result, these students automatically enter the application process with between 33% and 41% of the points required to qualify for student housing, giving them an unfair advantage over students who have not performed military service, and who enter the process with zero points.

Adalah argued that participation in military service does not reflect students’ needs for university housing, making it an irrelevant criterion, used to exclude Arab citizens of Israel. Adalah emphasized that students who have served in the Israeli military already receive substantial benefits under the “The Absorption of Discharged Soldiers Law – 1994,” which enumerates all the social and economic benefits to which former soldiers are entitled, providing them with compensation including housing and educational grants. Haifa University is therefore illegitimately providing additional benefits to students who have performed military service.

Adalah also noted in the petition that this policy particularly discriminates against Arab women, as religious Jewish women perform non-military service and receive the equivalent number of points according to the university’s system of allocating accommodation on campus.

Lawsuit 217/05, Haneen Na’amneh, et. al. v. Haifa University (case pending)