Published: 03rd December 2022
Brown University adds caste to non-discrimination policy
Officials noted a rise in caste discrimination on college and university campuses across the country as the South Asian population in the US has seen an increase
Brown University has become the first Ivy League School to add a new provision to its non-discrimination policy that explicitly prohibits caste oppression, according to details available on the University's website. The Corporation of Brown University, that is, Brown’s governing body, voted in Fall 2022 to adopt the provision that has been accepted into the University’s Corporation Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action.
Sylvia Carey-Butler, Vice-President for Institutional Equity and Diversity, who developed the change in the policy noted that there has been a rise in caste discrimination on college and university campuses across the country as the South Asian population in the US has seen an increase, as per details available on the University's website. “Our nondiscrimination policies exist to ensure we’re protecting people and to ensure the University environment is free of hurt and harm,” Carey-Butler said, according to the website. “We have a long-standing commitment to this work and it is ingrained into the fabric of who we are,'' she added.
Reports of discrimination
A group of students from the university contributed to the research on caste discrimination with Carey-Butler in Spring 2022. The students said in a statement that Brown’s “institutional support and explicit recognition of caste discrimination legitimizes caste-oppressed experiences and provides a framework for reporting incidents,” as per the website. The students also acknowledged that University students who are members of the castes classified as 'lower' often report facing discrimination at educational institutions in the diaspora.
“Many caste-oppressed people remain ‘closeted’ about their caste identity in fear of experiencing retaliation or discrimination,” the students said in a statement. “The new language of the University’s nondiscrimination policy offers caste-oppressed students who may be hiding their caste identity an option to report and address the harm they experience,” the students said as per the website.