Meet our New Director of Equity & Inclusion Abeer Syedah
written by | Abeer Syedah
It is with excitement and honor that I write this introductory blog as Students United’s first Director of Equity and Inclusion! This role is nothing short of a dream job as I am given the incredible opportunity to continue on my journey to serve students in higher education with a critical focus on diversity, inclusion, and equity.
My background is in higher education student advocacy which included my tenure as Student Body Vice President and then President at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, where I studied political science, gender studies, and sociology. I did every job under the sun as a student and all of these roles—including my four years in student government—brought to light a deficit in critical equity and inclusion work while also challenging me on my comprehension of the world, and the communities, around me. In my time at the U of M, I worked on many issues with a lens towards equitable representation for historically-marginalized groups; from passing an affirmative consent policy to revising a name procedure to allow for preferred names on official university documents, to increasing access to menstrual care products in all bathrooms, to advocating for the reduction of racial descriptors on crime alerts.
Post-graduation, I served as an organizer in the Twin Cities working with nonprofits and city campaigns on the fight to build political power for communities who have been strategically barred and disenfranchised from equal socio-political access.
Moving into the work of supporting the students at the Minnesota State Universities to advance their highest expectations of equality and justice, I am committed to spending the upcoming weeks and months getting to know the different campuses and communities, learning about the diversity of issues and people, and building trust between us. Having been a student leader, I remember how quickly actions that felt non-collaborative, not transparent, and/or against student interests could translate into consistent skepticism of someone’s actions and, consequently, roadblocks in getting the work done. So I am committed to owning my mistakes, learning and growing, and being as open and accessible as possible. Check me on that!
With equity work, every issue is deeply personal, complicated, and frequently rooted in contexts that go far beyond what is in front of us in the moment. I recognize the labor of every student on the ground often doing the work that advances their very own humanity. Using my own experience, the resources and tools at Students United, and the collaborative power of the brilliant people around me, I am here to help!
Email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.