Brown University adds caste to its non-discriminatory policy

The policy change was developed in view of the increase in South Asian students' enrollment in the US. Nearly 2 lakh Indian students enrolled in US in 2021-22.

Brown University (Image: Official website/ University (Image: Official website/

Anu Parthiban | December 5, 2022 | 11:37 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Brown University, a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island, has added a new provision to its nondiscrimination policy that explicitly prohibits caste oppression on campus.

Earlier, Brandeis University, Massachusetts in December 2019; University of California, Davis in October 2021, Harvard University in December 2021; and California State University in January 2022) added caste to non-discrimination policy.

Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity Sylvia Carey-Butler, who developed the policy change presented to the Corporation, said that as the South Asian population in the US increases, caste discrimination is a growing issue on college and university campuses across the country.

The Corporation of Brown University, Brown’s governing body, voted in Fall 2022 to adopt the change to the University’s Corporation Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action, the official statement said.

Viewing the decision as an important step, both "symbolically and practically", Carey-Butler said: “Our nondiscrimination policies exist to ensure we’re protecting people and to ensure the University environment is free of hurt and harm. We have a long-standing commitment to this work, and it is engrained into the fabric of who we are.”

A group of Brown students helped to inform the change by sharing research on caste discrimination with Carey-Butler in Spring 2022. The students said in a statement that Brown’s “institutional support and explicit recognition of caste discrimination legitimizes caste-oppressed experiences and provides a framework for reporting incidents.”

The university further said, “Failure to comply with the policy is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, expulsion, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (eg. staff, faculty) student disciplinary procedures.”

According to the Open Doors 2022 report on international educational exchange, a total of 1,99,182 Indian students enrolled in US academic institutions in 2021-22. The report shows an increase of 19 percent in enrollments from the academic year 2020-21. India and China are the largest contributors to international students in US universities.

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