By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
On January 21, 2022, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) posted an open letter in opposition to the California State University (CSU) system adding caste to their anti-discrimination policy and demanding its removal.
#Breaking: More than 80 @calstate faculty send blistering letter to Cal State Chancellor @josephlcastro and Board of Trustees strongly opposing policy change that will discriminate against and target ONLY Indian & other South Asian faculty. https://t.co/RiFCnuStLK
— Hindu American Foundation (@HinduAmerican) January 21, 2022
According to a press release relating to their response, over 80 CSU faculty members wrote a “blistering” letter to their Board of Trustees opposing the move.
They said since adding caste would apply only to faculty of Indian and South Asian descent, “the new policy would unfairly target a minority community for policing and disparate treatment.”
Hindu American Foundation, the advocacy group that filed a lawsuit over my @AJEnglish story last year is having a major meltdown & giving legal threats to @calstate for its system wide ban on caste based discrimination. pic.twitter.com/u702kd65Ae
— Raqib Hameed Naik (@raqib_naik) January 23, 2022
In the open letter itself, the HAF requested that “the new Collective Bargaining Agreement be approved only after removing caste as a protected category and that we meet in order for us to present evidence of the complete lack of due diligence exercised in the decision-making process.”
Following their questioning on the number of cases that resulted in this decision, as well as how many Indian/South Asian students and faculty they’ve consulted, they also attacked Equality Labs, the organization they deemed “anti-Hindu,” and “non-scientific” in their survey methodology. They also claim that the policy move is based on racist stereotypes.
They pointed out a different study, “Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey,” by Carnegie Endowment For International Peace (CEFIP), which, according to the HAF, negates the data that was collected of lower-caste individuals in the US by Equality Labs.
The CEFIP study states that only 5% of responders reported discrimination due to their caste. However, the questions about caste were only asked of Hindu responders even though casteism exists in all religions in the Indian subcontinent and diaspora, which means even though they collected data from 1,200 Indian Americans, only the 54% who identified as Hindu were asked about their experience with casteism thus making the data they are citing unreliable.
The Equality Labs report was based on a survey collected from 1,500 respondents and categorized them by caste rather than the responder’s religion. Had they asked the same question to the same people that Equality Labs requested when the data was collected, 5% from CEFIP would jump to 12% to 15% for people reporting discrimination in school due to their caste. For discrimination in the workplace, it would be closer to 20%.
The open letter ended with no signatures and no accurate number of how many people signed. It ends with “Sincerely, List of 80+ CSU Faculty suppressed.”