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Cal Student Body Passes Resolution on Caste-Based Discrimination


The Cal State Student Association (CSSA) passed a resolution supporting the addition of castes — a rigid system of social stratification native to India — as a protected category of California State University (CSU) 23 campuses’ anti-discrimination policy by a 22-0 vote.

The resolution stipulates that staff members working in anti-discrimination offices within the university be given the resources and information needed to better understand the caste system.

The resolution was authored by a higher caste student and backed by three other students from different racial and religious groups, Al Jazeera reported. Manmit Singh Chahal, a 20-year-old student at California Polytechnic State University and the lead author of the resolution, told the outlet that the resolution “was a joint inter-caste, inter-faith, and multiracial coalitional work.”

“There were Dalit students who testified, supported by Sikh, Muslim and Hindu upper-caste students, who also spoke in favor of passing the resolution,” Chahal said.

Caste-Based Discrimination Still a Reality on Campus

The resolution highlighted a 2016 study from Equity Labs that showed around 25 percent of Dalits report facing physical or verbal assault in the United States. One in three Dalit students also experience discrimination while studying in the country, and 60 percent of Dalits experience caste-based derogatory jokes or comments.

Furthermore, the resolution pointed out that while the present CSU policy that bans discrimination “includes many of the identities intertwined with castes, it does not protect from caste-based discrimination specifically.”

“All of these inequalities associated with caste status have become embedded in all of the leading South Asian American institutions and they extend into American mainstream institutions that have significant South Asian immigrant populations,” it explained.

Brandeis University in Massachusetts was the first school to prohibit discrimination on the basis of caste. The resolution revealed that the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University are also exploring caste issues on their campuses.

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