Tel Aviv University Establishes Commission for On-campus Equality and Diversity

Law Professor Neta Ziv will lead the department, which will work towards increasing the representation of marginalized groups among students, faculty and administration at the university

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The Tel Aviv University courtyard amid the coronavirus pandemic, in October.
The Tel Aviv University courtyard amid the coronavirus pandemic, in October.Credit: Moti Milrod

Tel Aviv University has named Prof. Neta Ziv, a member of the institution’s law faculty, to head its new Equality and Diversity Commission, the university announced Thursday.

The commission – the first of its kind ever established at an Israeli university – is tasked with increasing the representation of a number of marginalized groups among faculty, administration and the student body. These include women, Arabs, Ethiopians, Haredim, and people who are disabled, LGBTQ or first-generation college students. The university says it will soon draft a working plan and measurable targets for increasing the presence of these populations on campus.

“I believe that a diverse and equal campus is essential to achieving the academic excellence we strive for,” Ziv said. “But it’s also a matter of values: The university, as a body that draws on public and communal resources, has an obligation to reflect the diverse nature of the Israeli population and provide a space where each group will feel a sense of belonging, in an equal and respectful way.”

Ziv’s new position will coordinate the responsibilities of other university figures, including the president’s adviser on gender, the dean of students and those responsible in each department for integrating students and faculty with diverse backgrounds. The commission she leads will establish an information and research center for on-campus diversity, as well as a commission to handle individual reports in the event that a student is mistreated.

Ziv’s appointment is part of the implementation of recommendations by a committee appointed by Tel Aviv University President Prof. Ariel Porat to examine the issue.

That commission, headed by Prof. Sigal Alon, issued a report saying that the new unit should recommend policy and set goals on diversity and inclusion. “In order to solve complex social issues, discover the next scientific breakthrough and reach new heights of artistic expression, we must bring in a broad diversity of ideas, approaches, points of view and experiences,” the report said.

“There is also an educational aspect of a diverse campus, in that it better prepares students for citizenship and leadership in a democratic society that aspires to the ideals of eschewing racism, fear of the other and stereotypes,” the report continued.

Porat said that “striving for equality and diversity on campus is not only an important social goal. Having a diverse academic faculty ensures a higher academic standard and makes the learning experience on campus more meaningful. The university belongs to everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or nationality.”