Faculty members of California State University protest inclusion of caste in non-discriminatory policy

Under the policy, a student would be able to report anti-caste bias experienced on campus

Namita Singh
Monday 24 January 2022 11:38
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<p>File: A person wears a face mask as they walk past the University Bookstore at the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) campus on 11 August 2021 in Long Beach, California</p>

File: A person wears a face mask as they walk past the University Bookstore at the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) campus on 11 August 2021 in Long Beach, California

Days after California State University announced the addition of caste as a protected category in its system-wide anti-discrimination policy, more than 80 faculty members reportedly sent a letter to the board of trustees opposing the move.

The faculty members said the new policy would unfairly target a minority community for policing and disparate treatment, reported Press Trust of India.

The policy in the university came after years of activism from Dalit students. Under the policy, a caste-oppressed student would be able to report anti-Dalit bias experienced on campus.

“I commend the incredible work and dedication of the students, employees and other partners whose efforts ensure that our policies align with our bold aspirations,” LA Times quoted chancellor Joseph I Castro as saying.

Caste is one of the oldest form of social stratification that is handed down at birth and is used to divide Hindus into hierarchical groups and to determine the social status. Though caste-based discrimination is banned in India, the system has long been used across South Asian diaspora to entrench the privilege of members of the so-called upper castes while condemning those of lower castes to specific, less desirable roles or occupations.

However, opposing the move, the 80 faculty members wrote to CSU Trustees and administrators that “this addition is a misguided overreach.”

“We believe that this addition is a misguided overreach without any evidence for its need and that instead of curbing discrimination, it will cause more discrimination by unconstitutionally singling out and targeting Hindu faculty of Indian and South Asian descent.”

The signatories expressed their dismay over not being consulted by the California Faculty Association before arriving at the decision. “We have previously met with the CFA president in May 2021 about this possibility and were assured that no such decision would be made without consulting those of us who would be directly impacted by the addition of caste in protected category.

“To our great disappoint, CFA did not consult any of us,” they said.

The opposition to the move, however, has become a subject of ridicule on social media.

“Caste is a kind of racism. Only #Caste_racists oppose identifying caste as one of the discriminatory practices,” wrote a user.

“Meltdown! Oppressor caste faculties writing letter against adding caste to the system of anti-discrimination policy of [CSU], the largest university system in the US,” wrote another user.

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