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Equality Labs Commends Colby College’s Bold Step Towards Caste Equity

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.”