Brown University now explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of caste, joining a number of US colleges and universities.
The university’s governing body voted this fall to add caste as a protected characteristic to its nondiscrimination policy, alongside categories such as race, religion, sex and gender identity.
“The previous policy would have protected people experiencing caste discrimination,” Sylvia Carey-Butler, the university’s vice president for institutional equity and diversity, said in a press release. “But we felt it was important to lift this up and explicitly express a position on caste equity.”
A group of Brown students worked with administrators to bring about specific protections for caste, which they said “legitimizes caste-oppressed experiences and provides a framework for reporting incidents,” according to the university news release.
“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.”