SF State student joins campaign to ban caste discrimination, receives top CSU award

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CSU grants Manmit Singh 2022 Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement for commitment to community building

San Francisco State University student Manmit Singh believes people should use their position of power to advocate for marginalized communities. One of Singh’s proudest accomplishments embodies exactly that, which led to a major change within the California State University (CSU) system.

Earlier this year, the CSU became the first university system nationwide to add caste to its anti-discrimination policy. A big reason why this policy change happened is because Singh and their peers advocated for it.

“This change is acknowledging caste and coming to terms with it, which is step one of dismantling it,” said Singh, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Ethnic Studies at SF State. “With these protections now being promised, it creates the space for people to come forward to begin conversations on how we can transform our institutions.”

Singh, who comes from an upper caste background, worked with Dalit (the most socially and economically oppressed in South Asia’s caste system) feminist leadership to organize a campaign for this policy change. Because of their involvement, along with their academic achievements and strong commitment to community building, Singh is one of the recipients to receive the CSU 2022 Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, earning them a $7,000 scholarship.

Singh says this scholarship will help them continue community organizing work and eventually pursue a Ph.D. in ethnic studies, American studies or feminist studies. “I hope to continue building communal spaces of love, care, healing and dreaming,” they added.

The CSU Trustees’ Award is the university’s highest recognition of student achievement. Each award provides a donor-funded scholarship to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and inspirational goals for the future. The awardees have demonstrated a deep commitment to making a positive impact on their generation, as well as those who come after them.

“These 23 remarkable scholars wonderfully exemplify the ideals of the California State University,” said CSU Chancellor Jolene Koester. “Their inspirational stories are connected by a common thread of intelligence, perseverance, resilience and the transformative power of higher education. Our communities, state and nation — indeed, our world — will long reap the benefits of their academic, professional and personal achievement.”

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