Brown University has become the first Ivy League school to add a new provision to its nondiscrimination policy that explicitly prohibits caste oppression, according to details available on the university’s website.
Brown University’s non-discrimination policy
The Brown University Corporation, Brown’s governing body, voted to amend the university’s Corporate Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, and Affirmative Action in the Fall of 2022.
Sylvia Carey-Butler, vice president of institutional justice and variety, who developed the company’s proposed policy change, said that due to the growing South Asian population in the US, caste discrimination is a growing problem in school and college campuses across the country.
“Our non-discrimination policies are designed to ensure that we protect individuals and ensure that the college environment is free from injury and harm,” Carey-Butler said. “We have been committed to this work for a long time and it is ingrained in who we are.”
Reports of discrimination
A group of Brown university students helped inform the change by sharing a caste discrimination analysis with Carey-Butler in the spring of 2022. The university students stated in a press release that the “institutional support and explicit recognition of Brown’s caste discrimination legitimize experiences of caste oppression and provide a framework for reporting incidents.”
The students discovered that South Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, but much of this population comes from castes that are considered more prestigious. Students belonging to the lower castes often report discrimination in academic establishments within the diaspora.
“Many caste-oppressed people keep their caste membership secret for fear of reprisals or discrimination,” the academics said in a press release. “The new language in the university’s non-discrimination policy provides an opportunity for caste-oppressed students who may be hiding their caste identities to come forward and address the harm they have suffered”, the students said as per the website.
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