Saturday, November 27, 2021

The caste system is seen as a diversity issue on US campuses

Colby College bans caste discrimination, a system of inherited social class, becoming one of the first colleges in the country to do so.

The private liberal arts college has revised its nondiscrimination policy to add caste to its list of protections for the campus community.

This effort was spearheaded by a professor who took an interest in caste discrimination across the country and realized that the college should recognize it as a form of discrimination. Bangor daily news reported.

“You have to first name what it means: it exists, we call it, we resist it,” said Sonia Thomas, assistant professor and chair of women’s, gender and sex studies at Colby.

Although castes are often associated with South Asia, such class systems are used in religions, cultures and countries, and even in technology industries and academia, Thomas said.

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Of the more than 1 million international students in the United States, half are from China or India, according to the Institute for International Education in New York.

Colby does not have many South Asian students, but this increases the diversity of his student body, so “it is important that we take a step back and reflect on the policies we are calling for promoting inclusiveness and protecting community members,” said Tyo Cliburn, Dean of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The updated Colby College policy, announced this week, follows the policy of Brandeis University in Massachusetts, which announced in late 2019 that it would ban caste discrimination on its campus.

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