Two new Stanford student services professionals discuss their plans

New staff
Abiya Ahmed and Snehal Naik

Student Affairs recently filled two staff positions that serve Stanford students. Long-time Stanford staff member SNEHAL NAIK and fifth-year doctoral student ABIYA AHMED are assuming new leadership roles in the Office of Student Engagement and The Markaz, respectively. Here, they share what’s new in their units and how they will continue to support students during the pandemic.

Naik is the new senior director of the Office of Student Engagement (OSE). In his new role, Naik will provide strategy, vision, support and long-range planning for student engagement initiatives and activities at Stanford, including Greek life.

Under Naik’s leadership, OSE will support Stanford’s ongoing efforts to create a vibrant social life on campus. Specifically, Naik and his staff will help develop and support student-led organizations and events, including virtual ones during the pandemic, which Naik said has challenged his team to rethink their approach to student engagement.

Naik noted that the OSE was previously called Student Activities and Leadership. Along with the name change, the office will focus on building connections, networks and helping prepare students for their careers after Stanford. 

He previously served as associate director and assistant dean for Student Activities and Leadership and is also currently the associate director of student life in the MBA and MSx Programs Office at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Ahmed is the new associate dean and director of The Markaz. As the center’s first director in more than two years, she will be tasked with developing its vision, mission and goals for the next few years. Additionally, she will initiate or build upon the center’s collaborations with other centers and campus partners, including Residential Education, the Office for Religious Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.

To help with strategizing a direction for the future of The Markaz, Ahmed is creating a core task force comprising students and community members. She encourages anyone in the Stanford community who is interested in joining to contact her.

With most of the Stanford shut down and students dispersed around the globe, Ahmed said The Markaz is continuing to offer support and programming through virtual channels.

“We’ve set up a ‘digital Markaz’ that has the latest updates, and we’ve taken all our programming virtual,” she said.

Online opportunities include “Afternoon Chai” social gatherings, special Ramadan activities, a virtual Eid celebration and a continued partnership with CAPS to offer counseling services. The Markaz also has a popular new project called Community Creative Archive that is documenting student narratives and experiences of quarantine through art, poems, music and other explorations of digital space.

Ahmed is currently a fifth-year PhD candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Education. 

Read more in Roundabout.