Brown University is the first Ivy League school that adds official caste protections

Brown University is the latest in a string of schools to add caste protections to their nondiscrimination policies, a measure aimed at giving Dalit students

Brown University is the latest school to include caste protections in their nondiscrimination policies. This measure was designed to give Dalit students official channels for reporting bias.

According to Equality Labs , the private university in Providence (Rhode Island) is the first Ivy League institution to include casteism as part of its general policy. In the United States, however, the push for caste equality has been taking root in schools and institutions across the country over the past few years.

One Brown graduate, who was caste-oppressed and spent more than a year fighting for change, said that if you add caste in a nondiscrimination strategy, then everyone that must abide by it has to know what caste is. It is going to take training for people to understand it. They must make an announcement. This encourages people to think further and learn more.

To avoid doxxing and retaliation, the former student asked to remain anonymous.

Experts say that casteism is a system of social stratification-based discrimination that has shaped many subcontinent lives and continues in South Asian communities, even as people migrate to Western countries. People born to lower castes are often subject to violence, oppression and exclusion on the subcontinent as well as hateful treatment in the diaspora.

Neha Narayan, a student who pushed for the policy change, stated that “Caste follows South Asian communities wherever they go.” “I have heard of numerous instances where people were asked coded questions…even students being asked, “Hey guys, what is everybody’s caste?”

Brown stated Thursday that there is a need to protect the South Asian American population as they grow.

Sylvia Carey Butler, Brown’s vice-president for Institutional Equity and Diversity said that the previous policy would have protected those who are subject to caste discrimination. “But, we felt it important to lift up this issue and express an explicit position on caste equality.”

An anonymous graduate claims that she felt unwelcome in South Asian spheres during her time at Brown because of casteism.

She said, “I avoided many of the South Asian social space because of that exclusion.”

Although she is no longer a student at Brown, she hopes that Brown’s official recognition of casteism for future students will make it more real.

She said, “I am so happy.” It’s a start. It opens up possibilities for dialogue that haven’t been possible. It is a concept that most people don’t understand.

Narayan stated that caste was not a topic that was often brought up on campus in relation to South Asian identity before the policy change.

She said, “It’s one of the most secretive things.” “Even though I am a caste-privileged student, I can see how someone could feel very alienated in such an environment. How difficult would it be to raise concerns about caste discrimination in an environment that doesn’t discuss caste?

Brown’s policy explicitly bans casteism, so she hopes that caste-oppressed students have more opportunities to share their experiences and find safe spaces where leaders can better understand them.

After being pressured by Equality Labs-backed student activists , other schools like Brandeis University in Boston, University of California-Davis and all California State Universities have made similar moves.

Harvard University introduced caste protections to graduate student workers last year. However, Harvard’s new policy did not extend to all students, unlike Brown’s.

Manmit Singh, organizer of Equality Labs stated that although the road to transform our higher education institutions into caste-equitable is still long but that we are one step closer.

More Stories

Stay informed by joining TruthRow

24/7 coverage from 1000+ journalists. Subscriber-exclusive events. Unmatched political and international news.

You can cancel anytime