System administrators at California State University (CSU) voted unanimously on Tuesday to ratify an agreement, which historically requires caste to be a protected category for all of its anti-discrimination clauses for all contracts.
The development, described as historic by its supporters led by Equality Labs, comes days after more than 80 Indian-origin faculty members in the university system opposed such a move. The development impacts all CSU systems across 23 campuses and eight off-campus centers enrolling 4,85,550 students with 55,909 faculty and staff.
Notably, Cal State is the nation’s largest public four-year university system.
“Caste-oppressed students, community members and the labor movement stood together to speak our truths and secure this victory,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of Equality Labs, an advocacy organization. Dalit civil rights, in a statement.
As many as 112 Cal State professors, along with nearly 500 allied academics, numerous civil rights organizations and labor unions submitted letters of support for adding caste to the non-discrimination policy of Cal State and to urge Cal State administrators to immediately ratify the historic California Faculty Association collective bargaining agreement that includes caste protections and promotes caste equity for millions of students, staff, faculty, and workers at CSU.
”CFA members are voting on the agreement between the CSU leadership and the CFA. This agreement includes the inclusion of caste as a protected category. We strongly support caste inclusion. This is about non-discrimination and non-discrimination,” said CFA Chairman Charles Toombs.
As a result of these decisive actions, the inclusion of caste in the tentative agreement is another important step towards equality and non-discrimination for some of the most vulnerable members of the CSU community, said Ruvani Fonseka. , assistant professor, San Jose State University School of Social Work, former lecturer, CSU East Bay Department of Social Work, and faculty letter signatory.
Last week, more than 80 CSU faculty members opposed a recent announcement by the university to include caste in its non-discriminatory policy.
In a scathing letter to the CSU Board of Trustees opposing the move, faculty members wrote that the new policy would unfairly target a minority community for policing and disparate treatment. Adding caste as a specific and distinct protected category would only apply to faculty of Indian and South Asian descent, they said.
“Adding caste is an ill-advised excess given the existence of comprehensive policies that already protect against various forms of discrimination,” said Praveen Sinha, professor of accounting at CSU, Long Beach.
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