Chicago — Brown University has become the first Ivy League school to ban caste discrimination throughout campus.
The caste system is a social hierarchy that ranks orders of groups, determining an individual's occupation, diet and even marital choice. It was added in its non-discrimination policy for students, faculty and staff, also including other categories like race, religion, sex and gender, according to Yahoo News
Brown administrators worked with students to develop specific protections for caste that would legitimize “caste-oppressed experiences” and provide a “framework for reporting incidents,” according to a press release about the ban.
“Many caste-oppressed people remain ‘closeted’ about their caste identity in fear of experiencing retaliation or discrimination,” students said in the release. “The new language of the University’s nondiscrimination policy offers caste-oppressed students who may be hiding their caste identity an option to report and address the harm they experience.”
Advocacy organization Equality Labs commended the move.
“With about 15 percent of its student population being international students, the addition of caste in the anti-discrimination will protect both domestic and international students, staff, and faculty from the caste discrimination rampant across American higher education institutions,” the group said.
Similar provisions at other colleges and universities were adopted earlier this year, including the California State University system, the University of California, Davis, Colby College and Brandeis University.
Harvard University also instituted caste protections last year but only for student workers, which is included in its contract with the Harvard Graduate Student Union.