Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Maine’s Colby College bans discrimination based on caste

WATERVILEY, Maine (NWN) — Colby College is banning discrimination based on race, a system of inherited social class, becoming one of the first colleges in the country to do so.

The private liberal arts college revised its non-discrimination policy to add caste to its list of protections for the campus community.

As Bangor Daily News reports, the efforts were led by a professor who took an interest in caste discrimination across the country and felt the need for the college to recognize it as discrimination.

“You have to first describe what it is to say: It exists, we name it, we stand against it,” said Sonja Thomas, associate professor and chair of the department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Colby.

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While caste is often associated with South Asia, such class-based systems also come into play in religions, cultures and countries, and even in technology industries and academia, Thomas said.

Colby doesn’t have a larger student population than South Asia, but it is increasing the diversity of its student population, so “it is important that we take a step back, reflect on the policies we can take to promote inclusivity and support members.” Safety calls for community,” said Tayo Clyburn, dean of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Colby College’s updated policy, announced this week, follows one at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, which announced in late 2019 that it would prohibit racial discrimination on its campus.

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