Adalah Seeks an Injunction Against Haifa University to Prevent the Expulsion of Three Arab Students


On 31 October 2001, the Haifa University Disciplinary Committee issued a decision to expel three Arab students, members of the Arab Students Committee, from the University. On 2 November 2001, Adalah filed a motion to the Haifa District Court demanding a stay of the implementation of this decision. The District Court ordered an immediate hearing to be held tomorrow, Monday, 5 November 2001.


The Disciplinary Committee’s decision came in response to a demonstration held by 30 Arab students on 24 October 2001. The students assembled at the university to demonstrate against the housing shortage faced by Arab students, and against policies that discriminate against Arabs in the assignment of rooms in the university dormitory. According to the Arab Students Committee, about 300 Arab students began the current academic year without housing, due to discriminatory university policies and to the unwillingness of local landlords to rent apartments to Arabs.


University authorities claim that the demonstration violated an order issued by the University President, banning political activity on campus during the first ten days of the current academic year.


Adalah staff attorneys Orna Kohn and Suhad Bishara are representing the three students, Shadi Khalilia, Raja Zaatra, and Ahmad Abed el-Khalek, head of the Arab Students Committee. In their motion to the District Court, Adalah’s lawyers argue that the decision by Professor Hayim Kutiel, head of the Disciplinary Committee, strongly violates the students’ basic rights, including their right to a fair hearing.


On 31 October 2001, the three students had a preliminary hearing before Professor Kutiel, which was followed by the decision to expel them and to prevent them from entering the university grounds until their disciplinary hearing, scheduled to begin on 8 November 2001.


In its motion, Adalah argues that the President’s order prohibiting political activity is in itself a violation of internal University regulations. These regulations indicate that only an emergency situation can permit such a ban; however, there was no evidence of any emergency. In addition, the original order, issued more than three months ago, came from the Dean of Students, who lacks the authority to ban political activity on campus. 


Not only was the order banning political activity itself illegal, but Professor Kutiel’s decision was also inconsistent with its terms. The 31 October 2001 demonstration was clearly focused on a student issue and did not constitute a political activity that would be subject to the ban.


Further, Adalah argues that Professor Kutiel’s unilateral decision to expel the students without following the official disciplinary procedure was unreasonable, given that the students’ peaceful demonstration did not constitute a foreseeable severe, clear and apparent danger. Professor Kutiel failed to demonstrate any threat posed by the demonstration; indeed, the seven-day period between the demonstration and the preliminary hearing were completely without incident. Professor Kutiel made his decision without considering alternatives that would protect the students’ basic rights.