University of California, Davis adds caste to anti-discrimination policy

The University of California, Davis added a new chapter to its core values by identifying caste as a violation of the institution’s Code of Student Conduct. During a recently held town hall meeting, UC…

University of California, Davis adds caste to anti-discrimination policy

The University of California, Davis added a new chapter to its core values by identifying caste as a violation of the institution’s Code of Student Conduct.

During a recently held town hall meeting, UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May addressed concerns over a recent spike in transgender vandalism, which has included spray-painting “reject” and “barbaric” graffiti on the handrails of the campus’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning Resource Center.

During a town hall meeting, UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May addressed concerns over a recent spike in transgender vandalism.

In a statement sent to The Sacramento Bee, the university said it had received “multiple inquiries” about anti-Semitism. The university asked for suggestions as to how to ensure the safety of both Jewish students and members of the Jewish community.

The Associated Press reports that a student recently obtained an email sent to faculty and staff by the UC Davis Institute for Justice in Education, in which it was noted that “recent incidents of anti-Semitism … disturbingly come from a growing number of people with ties to UC Davis.”

“We already actively address anti-Semitism on campus,” The Sacramento Bee quotes May as writing in a response to the pressure, including from a letter written by nine law professors that referenced “anti-Semitism-related incidents this month and last on campus.”

“Some have demanded the appointment of a chief of anti-Semitism, and I am committed to leading this effort,” May told his constituents.

For its part, the Anti-Defamation League condemned the school for introducing caste, which is understood to be used to be a living analogy for the treatment of women in India. The Chief Ombudsman of UC Davis’ Faculty Senate wrote that “women generally suffer from injustices far worse than those traditionally described.”

Students and professors alike were sharply critical of the policy, with some comparing it to the South African apartheid.

Because I am white, cisgender, straight male and queer, not oppressed. Do I care what if you didn’t have these resources? @UC_Davis — Nicholas Mantzoros (@dosac3) July 17, 2018

Though some have argued the lack of a caste system is due to a lack of need for it in an age of imperialism, caste was routinely applied during the Rhodes Must Fall movement, a protests against colonialism in South Africa that took place from the late 1980s until it collapsed in 1999. During this time, the apartheid regime maintained a classist policy that essentially labeled people — such as South African women — of lower social class as “Soweto Girls,” who were denied fair access to education.

Feminist writers have long argued against the concept of caste, arguing it reinforces white patriarchal norms.

“Caste is the preserve of white and Christian men and men of their privilege,” women’s novelist Germaine Greer wrote in the Daily Mail, against the caste system in her 1974 “Notes on a ‘Racial Condition’ (as an Extension of the ‘Female Condition’).”

In the realm of medicine, a caste system is also still highly controversial. The American Journal of Public Health reported in 2010 that only 0.03 percent of medical graduates use the caste system, which divides medical school students into five social classes: “aliens, Jews, Catholics, Orientalists, and non-Islanders.”

But others maintain that caste, as a concept, remains a valid criterion for treatment in some African societies.

Speaking with International Business Times, Patrick Davis, a professor of African-American studies at Brown University, disputed that there was even a caste system in African societies, but said it did exist in families.

“The inheritance is in a family; everybody depends on the family. It’s more like a caste system than a racial system,” he said.

Read the full story at The Sacramento Bee and the Associated Press.

Related

Princeton academic blasts ‘racist’ Hollywood for whitewashing roles with ‘cis-amenities’

State senator writes open letter to Black people whose U.S. college degrees have returned

Nine law professors concerned that anti-Semitism is escalating at UC Davis

Leave a Comment