Tel Aviv University launches pilot program offering mixed Jewish-Arab dorm rooms
‘The university is a place where there is an opportunity for a meeting’
Tel Aviv University (TAU) started offering prospective students to sign up for a shared on-campus housing, where Jewish and Arab students are placed together.
According to Professor Neta Ziv, the university’s commissioner of equality and diversity, the pilot program was launched after the TAU administration learned about the unofficial segregation policy of the company that operates the dormitories about a year ago, Haaretz reported.
“We thought it was right to allow our students the option of cohabitation as well. Jews and Arabs live in different spaces throughout their lives, and the university is a place where there is an opportunity for a meeting,” Ziv was quoted as saying.
Students’ chances of getting an on-campus placement are determined by lottery. The criteria for entering include economic situation, family size and how far the family house is from the university. The priority is given to freshmen.
Now students who signed up for the lottery have an opportunity to participate in the new program.
“We respect students’ wishes – for example, a female Bedouin student who comes from a traditional society, or a Haredi man who keeps kosher and observes Shabbat – to live in an environment that suits them,” Ziv said, stressing that lottery chances of those students, who do not wish to participate in the mixed housing program, will not be affected.
“It seemed right to us to do it in a pilot format and not to move from one extreme to another,” Ziv added.
So far a few dozen students have signed up for the program, setting an example to other Israeli universities, where Jews and Arabs rarely share dormitories, according to the Haaretz survey. Although no official separation policy is in place, the vast majority of students live with people from similar ethical, religious or secular backgrounds.