Brown University has added caste protections to their nondiscrimination policies so that Dalit students have official channels to report bias, NBC reported.
Dalit refers to the people otherwise referred to as Harijans, or ‘Untouchables’ under India’s caste system, according to Minority Rights Group International.
This makes Brown one of the latest schools to make such a move and the first Ivy League school to mention casteism in its general policy, according to Dalit civil rights organization Equality Labs.
“If you add caste to a nondiscrimination policy, now everybody that has to abide by that policy has to know what caste is,” said one caste-oppressed Brown graduate who spent over a year pushing for the change. “People are going to have to get trained about it. They have to make an announcement. It prompts people to think more and learn more.”
Caste-equity advocacy has been occurring at schools across the U.S. in recent years. The University of California—Davis, Brandeis University, and the entire California State University system, have made similar moves after pressure from student activists backed by Equality Labs. And last year, Harvard University added caste protections for graduate student workers.
As the South Asian American population grows, such protections need to be present, Brown said.
“The previous policy would have protected people experiencing caste discrimination,” Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler, Brown’s vice president for institutional equity and diversity, said in a statement. “But we felt it was important to lift this up and explicitly express a position on caste equity.”