Statement of Support for Adding Caste to US University Anti-discrimination Policies
January 26, 2022
By the South Asia Scholar Activist Collective (SASAC)
As scholars of South Asia, many of whom hold caste privilege, we write to support adding caste as a protected category to anti-discrimination policies at universities and colleges in the United States. To date, the California state system is the largest university system to take this historic step to combat caste-based discrimination, along with Harvard University, Brandeis University, Colby College, and others. Hindu Right groups have opposed this move towards greater equity, especially in the California state university system. We note that this top-down opposition is backed by financial resources from organizations known to promote the political ideology of Hindutva. Casteism and Hindu nationalism are deeply intertwined. Additionally, the Hindu Right groups opposing caste equity on American campuses typically feature leadership that leverages caste power to retain strength and support. Dalits report alarmingly high rates of caste-based discrimination in educational settings. As scholars, activists, and teachers, we advocate for universities across the United States to add caste to their anti-discrimination policies as a first step towards equity for historically-oppressed communities on our campuses.