In another historic win for caste equity, Colby College becomes the second university in the United States to add caste as a protected category to its anti-discrimination policy. Colby joins Brandeis University in leading the nation as campuses around the country rush to address the national problem of caste-based discrimination. These efforts by colleges and universities are part of a growing national movement for caste equity being led by caste-oppressed students, tech workers, and everyday community members harmed by discrimination and violence.
Leaders in the fight for caste equity congratulate this latest step toward recognizing caste as a protected category, following on the heels of the California Democratic Party’s recent move.
Equality Labs’ Executive Director, Thenmozhi Soundararajan: “What a joyful and powerful win to see caste added as a protected category at Colby College. It’s a vindication to the thousands of South Asian American students, faculty, and staff who have been facing caste discrimination on campuses across the United States. Our research has shown that 1 in 4 Dalits experience physical assaults, 2 out 3 face workplace discrimination, and 1 in 3 face discrimination in education. Our data as well as personal stories of caste-oppressed people point to this urgent problem and we are thrilled that Colby has answered the call for equity.”
Colby University Sonja Thomas: “As universities confront legacies of inequity, proactive steps like Colby College’s ensure the rights of caste-oppressed students, faculty, and staff will be protected. Caste discrimination in education settings include slurs, hate crimes, discrimination in housing, biased curriculum, and sexual assault. The addition of caste as a protected category bolsters the university’s commitment to diversity and helps build cultural competencies related to caste-based discrimination.
Colby College’s action today adds to a growing movement of educational institutions tackling caste discrimination that particularly harms South Asian American communities. Just this year, the California State Students Association passed a resolution impacting half a million students to demand caste protections across all 24 CSU campuses, while the National Women’s Studies Association added caste as a protected category. The caste equity movement represents a visionary call for civil rights that is just gathering steam. We welcome more universities to take this bold step to add caste-based protections and make it an institutional priority to build caste-based competency and investments to create equitable, inclusive campuses that embody the right side of history.”