Brandeis first American univ. to prohibit caste discrimination

January 10, 2020

President Ron Liebowitz announced on Dec. 17 that Brandeis now expressly prohibits discrimination based on caste, making it the first American university to do so, according to a WGHB article. 

Caste discrimination will be included in Brandeis’ non-discrimination policy “just as discrimination based on race, color, ancestry, religious creed, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, genetic information, disability, military or veteran status, or any other category protected by law is prohibited,” according to Liebowitz’s email to the Brandeis community. 

The caste system is “an institution that perpetuates socio-economic inequalities and limits human functions,” according to a paper by Hari Bapuji and Chrispal Snehanjali.

“Brandeis believes that since caste identity is so intertwined with many of the legally recognized and protected characteristics, discrimination based on a person’s caste is effectively the same,” said Liebowitz’s email. “Going forward, the Office of Equal Opportunity will oversee issues and complaints of discrimination related to caste brought forward by members of the Brandeis community, just as it does for other types of discrimination.”

CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, or J-CASTE, Brandeis’ journal that assesses “systems in South Asia and beyond and considers the marginalization and inter-generational oppression of religious, racial and cultural minorities throughout the world” and ‘intolerance in multi-faith democracies,” according to its website, came out with its first issue in March 2019. The Dalai Lama congratulated J-CASTE in February for its launch. 

“At the fundamental level we are the same, whether rich or poor, easterner or westerner. We all share the same potential for positive and negative emotions,” said the Dalai Lama in a letter. “I am therefore pleased to know that this journal, CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, of Brandeis University is being launched to advance the study of caste and social policies. The caste system, from what I know of its prevalence in any place is really outdated; I feel it is a vestige of feudalism. Through education, as your journal aspires to do, we can promote a sense of the oneness of the seven billion human beings.”According to an earlier article by The Brandeis Hoot, J-CASTE recognized three people in October for their work researching caste systems. Vivek V. Narayan, Ph.D. from Stanford University, and Maya Pramod, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Calicut, India were each awarded the Rising Scholar Award. Philip Martin from WGBH Boston was also awarded the Special J-CASTE Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.

Menu Title