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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ultra-Orthodox college threatens to revoke women's scholarships over 'immodest' dress

A controversial sign was posted last month at the Ono Academic College’s Jerusalem branch, which serves the Haredi community - it threatened to revoke the scholarships of female students who come to campus wearing “immodest clothing” that does not meet the college’s dress code.

“We would like to announce that starting Monday, Sivan 24, 5773 (June 3, 2013), the Haredi Scholarship will be revoked without any prior notification, for [female] students who come to the college (including during the period of exams) not according to the dress code of the Ono Academic College, the Jerusalem Haredi Campus,” stated the sign. “In addition, disciplinary action will be taken according to the college’s regulations.

“To come in inappropriate clothing that does not meet the modesty regulations during the exam period means the forfeiture of the right to be tested,” said the sign.

Two months ago a number of complaints were received from female students who complained about two other students at the branch, saying they were not honoring the dress code as defined by the school’s regulations, an employee involved in the matter told Haaretz. After examining the complaint, the college management asked the two female students to come discuss whether they were suited to study at the campus or would be better off transferring to the college’s main Kiryat Ono site, which serves the general population.

At the end of the meeting, the two students chose to continue at the Haredi campus while committing to “honor the basic rules that enable to preserve the character of the place.” No one has ever had a scholarship revoked at the Jerusalem branch, and it did not happen in this case either, said the employee.

The Jerusalem Haredi Campus of the college serves hundreds of ultra-Orthodox students, many of whom receive scholarships from various sources. The college is a private institution that is not funded by the state.

The Ono Academic College said: “We are proud that our Haredi Campus of the Ono Academic College blazed the trail for higher education for Haredim in Israel and serves as an academic home for half the Haredi students in the country.

This campus is responsible for 2,000 graduates who finished their studies and as a result integrated into the workforce. The atmosphere for learning on the Haredi Campus has been adapted for the lifestyles of the students who come to study there.

Strictly keeping to an appropriate dress code, for men and for women, is an essential condition that is intended to respect the community of students there. It should be noted that in any case of violation of regulations, the student is invited for a clarification before any action is taken in the matter.

"Without strictly keeping the suitability required for the Haredi sector, students from this community will not come [to study] and will not receive a higher education that contributes to their integration into society and the workforce. Every student who is bothered by the dress code of the Haredi Campus has the possibility of studying at the main campus of the Ono Academic College, where there is no demand for a special dress code,” said the school.

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