Eboo Patel’s keynote at ACPA’s 2015 Convention last spring sparked conversations about religious pluralism within circles of student affairs professionals and scholars. Yet, since then, what have we done as professionals and scholars to increase knowledge about, find ways to connect with, and better support Muslim students on our own campuses? Within a climate of increasing islamophobia, how can student affairs professionals and social justice educators engage all students in discussions about religious diversity and dismantle oppression?

On this episode of Student Affairs Live, host Heather Shea Gasser talks with Eboo Patel, the founder and President of the Interfaith Youth Core and three student affairs professionals, Maria Ahmad, Faran Saeed, and Hamza Khan, about how we can work to foster cooperation and inclusion for students of all faith traditions, but specifically for Muslim students on campus.

Link to Citations and Literature referenced during this Episode:


Episode Host

Heather Shea Gasser

Heather Shea Gasser

Heather Shea Gasser’s career in student affairs spans 16+ years and five different campuses, and involves experience in many different functional areas including residence life, multicultural affairs, women’s centers, student activities, leadership development, and commuter/nontraditional student services–she is a true Student Affairs Generalist. Heather is currently serving as the assistant director of RISE (Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment), a living-learning community at Michigan State University while also a full-time doctoral student in MSU's HALE (Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education) Program. She completed her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University in 2000. She currently serves as the Director of Membership Development for ACPA-College Student Educators International and blogs for Feminists in Student Affairs. Connect with Heather on Twitter at @heathergasser


Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel is a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation and the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. He is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground and the forthcoming Interfaith Leadership. Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. He is a regular contributor to the public conversation around religion in America and a frequent speaker on the topic of religious pluralism. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. For over fifteen years, Eboo has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help realize a future where religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.


Maria Ahmad

Maria Ahmad completed her undergraduate studies at the Ohio State University, and then obtained her Master’s degree in Higher Education from Northern Illinois University. Her involvement in campus activities and student groups as an undergraduate student led her to finding the field of higher education and student affairs. She now serves as the Coordinator of Student Activities and Chief Diversity Officer at Indiana University Kokomo. She lives in Kokomo, Indiana with her husband and ten month old daughter, Sarina.


Faran Saeed

Faran Saeed is a recent graduate of Louisiana State University where he completed his Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in 2012 from the University of Memphis. He currently serves as the Volunteer Programs Coordinator for Madison House, a nonprofit that is affiliated with the University of Virginia. In his personal time, Faran does interfaith work on the local and regional level. His research interests include College Muslim Identity Development and Religious Diversity. He is excited to share his experiences as an American Muslim and looking forward to sharing his expertise on the topic of Muslim College Students.


Hamza Khan

Hamza Khan is an award-winning digital strategist and entrepreneur. His proven record of success blends experiences from his work in the post-secondary education and technology startup sectors. In under two years, Hamza has helped establish Ryerson University – Canada’s leader in innovative, career-focused education – as a national leader in online student engagement.

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    My concern is that Muslim is a religion not a race. The US Constitution forbids specifically government support of a particular religion. See the establishment clause. Any monies spent by a college in support of “Muslim” students would violate that clause in as much as it would be a violation if it were Christians, Buddhists, Zennists, Taoists or any other religious group. While this may be politically correct, I fear it is a legal violation of the constitution. Any benefits to these students that are not allowed to all students would be an establishment of the religion since the colleges receive both state and federal money. I have no illwill towards our students of middle eastern descent, but must object to the establish of a religion by state colleges and universities that are arms of both the state and federal governments.