Boston, Massachusetts: In a historic win, Harvard University adds caste as a protected class to its Nondiscrimination & Anti-Harassment Policy, becoming the second Ivy League institution to include such protections for its students, faculty, staff, and other protected community members.
As a leading research University serving both undergraduate and graduate students from across the world, Harvard University’s addition of caste as a protected category affirms its commitment to supporting caste-oppressed students, staff, and faculty. In 2021, Harvard Graduate Student Union became the first union in the Ivy League network to add caste protections. Now the recent update to Harvard’s total anti-discrimination policy, available here highlights that caste discrimination will not be tolerated on campus and solidifies the leadership of the union on this issue.
Institutions across the country like Brown, UC Davis, Colby College, Brandeis University, California State University, and many others have similarly stood up to demand an end to caste-based discrimination—indicating that this urgent movement continues to expand and unite caste-oppressed students, faculty, and staff. As Harvard University joins these leading institutions in its commitment to ending caste discrimination, Equality Labs congratulates them on becoming the second Ivy League institution in the country to add caste as a protected category.
Down below are some quotes from campus and community leaders around this critical win:
Kartikeya Bhatotia, HKS Casteless Caucus “We are thrilled that the efforts to recognise caste as a protected category have resulted in this historic moment at Harvard. This is the culmination of years of advocacy and activism by the Bahujan community, patiently and tirelessly raising awareness about the caste system in South Asian communities.”
Harvard South Asians for Forward-Thinking Advocacy & Research (SAFAR) “As a new progressive South Asian advocacy group at Harvard, we are absolutely thrilled to see Harvard’s addition of caste to the non-discrimination and bullying policy (becoming the second Ivy League to do so). This long-needed addition has been fought for and won tirelessly by coalitions of student organizers, workers, and faculty members, and we are confident that this win will only cultivate further the anti-caste movement on our campus. Jai Bhim!”
Anand Raj- Harvard Dalit Alumni and Caste Equity Organizer “Although I am an alumni, I feel a sense of relief. I feel seen and visibilized after my graduate school experience where dominant castes were the face of the Indian subcontinent at Harvard – be in the classroom, student groups, or even among faculty. I believe this move is the first step towards fostering a more real, diverse, fair, and inclusive engagement with South Asia – from students, to faculty, to curriculum. Although it might feel like a small step, it reaffirms my hope that the arc of the moral universe will eventually bend towards justice. I congratulate the Harvard administration, students and staff, and the many allies and advocates who worked for this to become a reality.”
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director at Equality Labs “This is yet another historic moment and we are so excited to welcome Harvard University to the growing anti-caste movement. We congratulate Harvard for affirming its commitment to supporting all students, staff, and faculty, including on the basis of caste. As colleges and universities continue to add caste as a protected category, we are in awe of the power that students, staff, and faculty are building together through this worker-led, inter-caste and inter-faith effort.
Such collective power is unstoppable and beautiful in the ways it transforms our communities. Although the road ahead towards transforming our higher education institutions to be caste equitable is still long, we are one step closer in community. We look forward to continuing to build together and celebrating the many more victories to come. Thank you and congratulations once again to the courageous leaders at Harvard University whose labor, dedication, and love continues to guide the work for caste equity.”
For more information please contact Equality Labs at firstname.lastname@example.org.