Adalah to Universities' Registrar: New Safed College Constitution is Discriminatory, Forbids Arab Students from Running for Student Union President


On 8 May 2012, Adalah sent a letter to the Registrar of Universities in Israel in the name of Mr. Gabi Mansour, the president of the Arab Students' Union in Safed College requesting that the Registrar refuse to ratify Article 35 of the new Constitution of the college. Article 35 lists military or civil service for at least 24 months as a prerequisite for running for president of the student union.

Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher argued in the letter that this article will ban any Arab student from running for president of the Student Union, since Arab students are exempted from and do not perform military and alternative civil service. Article 35 discriminates on the basis of nationality, and thus violates the right to equality.

The article constitutes a gross encroachment on Arab students' rights, as they compose at least 60% of the student body. Thus, this provision violates their rights to be nominated and vote in elections, as well as their right to freedom of expression by electing a person who represents them, their views and their aspirations.

The letter added that there is no relationship between military or alternative civil service and the work of President of the Student Union. The president represents the group of students who study in the college. Further, there is no similar provision in any other academic institution in the country.

Attorney Zaher emphasized in the letter that in the past courts have dealt with military or civil service as a precondition in various fields concerning eligibility for benefits. The courts have decided in the majority of cases that this requirement constitutes discrimination against Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, and have ordered its cancellation.