Equity Conference 2022: Eradicating caste in higher education

Caste is now a protected category within the California State University (CSU) system thanks in large part to Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American students, faculty, and staff, and CFA union leaders, who have defended – and won – this provision. in our new contract.

The CFA Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Caucus brought together advocates to discuss this change and its implementation at the 2022 Equity Conference.

The panel, “A Movement for Caste Equity: Addressing Caste Discrimination in Higher Education” included panelists Prem Pariyar, Manmit Singh and Thenmozhi Soundararajan.

Counterclockwise from top left: CFA APIDA staff member Andrew Chang, CFA APIDA caucus co-chair Lisa Kawamura, Manmit Singh, Prem Pariyar, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, and CFA APIDA caucus co-chair Vang Vang lead the panel.

Pariyar, a CSU East Bay alumnus, and singh, a student from Chico State, helped lead the advocacy campaign to add caste to the list of categories protected from discrimination in CSUs.

Soundararajan is the Executive Director of Equality Labs, an Ambedkarite empowerment organization in South Asia that uses community research, policy base building, culture change art and digital security to end discrimination. the oppression of caste apartheid, islamophobia, white supremacy and religion. intolerance.

The panel discussed an overview of caste, how caste appears and is maintained in higher education spaces.

“As a Dalit student who attended California universities, I was someone who experienced very difficult levels of caste discrimination when I went to UC Berkeley,” Soundararajan said during the panel discussion. “If I had a resolution as strong as the one passed by the CFA through both the collective agreement and the larger policy change through the (CSU), I might have been a faculty member. of Cal State today.

“To be honest, the level of discrimination and harassment you face as a caste-oppressed student, especially if you were absent – which I was – was too high.”

The video is available here.

The Equity Conference library can be viewed at The CFA YouTube channel or on the Equity Conference page of our website.

Andrew B. Reiter