Harvard has become one of the first Ivy League universities to acknowledge the evils of caste-based discrimination across the US. On Dec 1, the university has approved a four-year contract that recognises caste as a protected category. After a three-day strike and eight months of negotiation between the students union and the administration, the university ratified the contract.
Caste Discrimination In United States
In 2020, Cisco, the American multinational, became embroiled in controversy as the California government filed a civil rights lawsuit against its managers. The case in question was regarding the lawsuit by the Californian Department of Fair Employment that alleged that managers at Cisco's San Jose headquarters harassed, discriminated, and retaliated against an engineer because he is Dalit Indian.
Apart from this, thirty women engineers born into the Dalit caste shared their experience with the caste bias in the US tech industry.
Students Applaud Inclusive Policy of Harvard University
Harvard's move has reassured students and activists alike. According to the US-based social justice organisation Equality Labs, the decision will impact over 4,900 student workers at Harvard university and the surrounding community. The Ivy League university joins other American schools such as the University of California, Colby College, Davis, and Brandeis University, which have acknowledged caste as a prevalent social evil, as per a report by Quartz India.
Aparna Gopalan, a doctoral student at Harvard and a member of the Harvard Graduate Students Union, led the demand for caste-sensitive policies. In a statement from Equality Labs, she stated that the Union's win had created a remarkable precedent for workers and students at other universities in their fight against caste injustice in the US.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the Executive Director at Equality Labs, appreciated the courage of the Harvard Graduate Student Union and the inter-caste and the interfaith coalition of community and students.