Opposition to caste as protected category in US university slammed by faculty, unions

Caste was added as a protected class by California State College final week, and comes amid a bigger dialog about casteism in the USA.

Although many have hailed the choice by California State College to incorporate caste as a protected class, one group has come out in opposition to the transfer together with some school members of the college. In a letter to the college, the Hindu American Basis, an advocacy organisation which claims to coach about Hindus and Hinduism, alleged that the inclusion of caste is discriminatory and can adversely impression school, workers and college students of south Asian or Indian origin. 

The California State College (CSU) system, one of many largest college techniques in the USA, has 23 campuses, 4.85 lakh college students and 55,000 school and workers members. Caste was added as a protected class within the coverage final week, and comes amid a bigger dialog about casteism in the USA. In 2020, the California Division of Honest Employment and Housing sued Cisco and former managers within the firm after a Dalit Indian-American worker had alleged that that they had been discriminated in opposition to on the idea of caste.  

The Hindu American Basis (HAF), nevertheless, claims that the idea of “caste” is “singularly related and falsely equated with Hindus, Indians and to a lesser extent, South Asians.” The letter alleged that caste as a category class “is broadly misunderstood, has no universally accepted definition, and is neither obvious nor inherent.” The group has claimed that discrimination primarily based on caste is “exceedingly uncommon” and transfer will as an alternative goal  “all Hindu, Indian and South Asian school and workers on the idea of their nationwide origin, ethnicity, ancestry, and faith.” They’ve additional claimed that the transfer is “ethnically antagonistic” and is prone to impression over 600 school of Indian and South Asian descent, and can create division the place it apparently doesn’t exist. 

It additionally flagged a letter despatched by 80 school members of the California State College, who alleged that the coverage was “misguided overreach” and that it’s going to, in flip, result in extra discrimination by “unconstitutionally singling out and focusing on Hindu school of Indian and South Asian descent.”

The letter additionally acknowledged that the trustees and directors should train due diligence, fact-check in addition to seek the advice of their authorized counsel in regards to the liabilities the college will incur on account of this new coverage.

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However, school members in addition to different associations throughout California have are available in help of the coverage. A letter with over 450 signatories, at the very least 111 of whom are Cal State school members, applauded the college system for shielding the rights of scholars, school and workers oppressed by caste. The letter additional states that the addition of caste doesn’t have an effect on different protected classes, and that it impacts greater than 5.6 million South Asians within the US. 

“Caste additionally continues to function within the US by types of social exclusion and office discrimination. Extending protections to oppressed castes doesn’t negate present protections on the idea of faith, nationality, race, and ancestry. The argument put forth by the opponents of the choice that present protections are ample to handle caste-based discrimination is patently false,” supporters of the coverage acknowledged in a letter. It provides that whereas caste is believed to be coated below present classes, those that have been oppressed have requested that or not it’s made specific. 

“This isn’t not like different protected classes like that of sexuality and gender that had been expanded to raised deal with the wants of queer and trans individuals,” the letter added. 

It added that the inclusion of caste is just not anti-Hindu, and that the try and discredit the stakeholders can also be an expression of casteism that “underscores the necessity for institutional protections.”

Letters in help of the addition of caste had been additionally written by the Asian Pacific American Labour Alliance and the California Commerce Justice Coalition.

Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organisation, aided within the strategy of together with caste as a protected class. In a 2018 survey, the organisation discovered that of the 1,500 respondents, 52% of Dalits and 25% of Shudras had been nervous about their caste being ‘outed’, versus 1% of Brahmins. It stated that 60% of Dalits skilled caste-based discrimination within the US, and two out of three reported being handled unfairly on the office.

The Hindu America Basis, nevertheless, refuted this survey, and pointed to a different survey by the Carnegie Endowment that “contradicts” the Equality Labs examine.  

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The survey by the Carnegie Endowment states that the Equality Labs survey is just not primarily based on a consultant pattern, which “raises questions in regards to the generalisability of its findings.” However within the pool of respondents within the Carnegie Endowment’s survey, 16% recognized as OBC and 1% as SC/ST. It referred to as for the findings to be handled with warning because the respondents had been restricted to Hindus. “Given the delicate nature of caste id, nonresponses within the survey might masks those that don’t want to disclose their caste affiliation even when they’re conscious of their household’s caste id,” the survey stated.

Whereas the survey says discrimination was totally on the idea of nation of origin or pores and skin color, it additionally instructed a chance that respondents interpret caste discrimination as a stand-in for different types of discrimination, corresponding to on the idea of pores and skin shade or nation of origin. “Provided that solely 5% of IAAS [Indian American Attitudes Survey] respondents report being victims of caste discrimination, any subgroup evaluation should be interpreted with due care given the small pattern sizes concerned,” it says.

The letter by school in help of the coverage stated that discrediting the Equality Labs survey “is emblematic of the violence caste oppressed people and organisations face when working in the direction of their rights. It’s also the exact motive why such protections are urgently wanted within the system.”

Thenmozhi Soundarajan, the Government Director of Equality Labs, responding to the college and Hindu American Basis, informed TNM that this was a show of bigotry and disinformation, and that the management of the HAF are higher caste, and are peddling falsehoods and concern.

“Dominant caste persons are in energy. They will complain and be upset in regards to the prospect of fairness, however they can’t cease progress. What I might encourage them to do is to place their power into studying extra about caste fairness, and with the ability to develop self reflective practices to know higher why the idea of fairness disturbs their nervous system a lot and is there a chance for them to make use of their discomfort as a studying second versus derailing democratic processes,” she stated. 

Reacting to the letters by HAF and the college members opposing the addition, lead organiser Prem Pariyar, a Nepali Dalit Social Work pupil at CSU East Bay who advocated for including caste as a protected class, informed TNM that caste-based violence and discrimination is rampant within the south Asian diaspora. 

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“We will not erase the lived experiences and wishes of caste-oppressed individuals.The deeply private and traumatic testimonies we’ve heard for months, and the work of Dalit and caste-oppressed students and organisers establishes that caste primarily based discrimination exists and must be protected in opposition to,” he stated, including that those that raised the difficulty at the moment are going through bigoted and violent assaults. This, he added, underscores why caste fairness protections are wanted.

“Hindu American Basis is spreading misinformation. Their letter to the choice makers at CSU defends caste supremacy. Aside from this, they’re additionally diminishing the significance of democratic negotiations over months to get caste added as a protected class into contracts and coverage paperwork. I hope they can perceive that caste protections are solely an additive layer of help for college kids like me – range, fairness and inclusion places of work have checks to make sure that the addition of 1 class doesn’t trigger hurt to different individuals and they need to belief this course of. Altering the coverage now, merely within the face of pushback  from the HAF, is undermining employees’ rights itself,” he stated. 

Learn: High US college system provides caste to its non-discrimination coverage

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