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US varsity updates policy, allows Sikh students to wear kirpan on campus

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | November 20, 2022 08:32 PM

NEW YORK: The University of North Carolina, Charlotte, has updated its 'Weapons on Campus' policy to allow Sikh students to wear a kirpan, a religious expression of faith, on campus.

The move comes about two months after a Sikh student at the university was arrested on campus for wearing the ceremonial dagger.

According to the updated policy, the university will allow students to wear kirpans on campus as long as the blade length is under 3 inches and is "worn close to the body in a sheath at all times".

The university also said other religious accommodations, including a request to wear a larger kirpan, can be made to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX and evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

"The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, with support from Institutional Integrity, also conducted additional awareness training this week with our police department and will continue its work to expand our cultural education and training opportunities for all of campus, " a university statement, released this week, read.

In its statement, the university thanked Sikh leaders, including nonprofit organisations -- The Sikh Coalition and the Global Sikh Council -- who provided expertise and perspective to help with the policy change.

"We will continue to use this incident as an opportunity for learning and growth for our community, " said the statement, signed by Chancellor Sharon L Gaber and Chief Diversity Officer Brandon L Wolfe.

The ruling was effective immediately, the university, which had apologised for the incident, said.

A week after the September 22 incident, the university had shared a list of planned actions, including providing support and resources to the students affected by the event.

It had mentioned changing the school's policy and providing additional education and training.

The matter first came to light when the student uploaded a video on Twitter and said that the police had handcuffed him for refusing to let the officer remove his kirpan.

Describing his suffering, the student wrote: "I wasn't going to post this, but I don't think I will receive any support from @unccharlotte. I was told someone called 911 and reported me, and I got cuffed for 'resisting' because I refused to let the officer take my kirpan out of the miyaan."

The video, which was seen by more than 21, 00, 000 people, amassed 56, 000 likes and several comments in support on social media.

The amritdhari, or baptized, Sikhs are required to carry five articles of the faith -- kesh (uncut hair), kara (steel bracelet), kanga (small comb), kachera (undershorts) and a kirpan (resembling a knife or sword).

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