A Dedicated Advocate for Queer Students
New associate director of EDIB focuses on needs of LGBTQIA+ community
In the newly created role of associate director of equity, diversity, inclusion & belonging (EDIB), Alicja Majer focuses on issues that impact Harvard Griffin GSAS’s queer community. But while Majer now oversees LGBTQIA+ affinity groups, they emphasize that their work—and the new position itself—are the product of the ongoing efforts of the School’s students.
“On top of their full-time PhD work, queer students have fought hard to gain support on the administrative and staff side and have been the main drivers behind institutional change,” Majer says. “Their advocacy and work led us here, and this role is just part of the process and an organic extension of their efforts.”
As they settle into their role, Majer’s focus on students carries over into all they do, whether providing support for student goals, helping with administrative responsibilities, or empowering them to generate ideas and vision. Majer wants these groups—and all queer students—to feel that they have a helper and an advocate anytime they want to create affirming programming.
“Students are the idea-makers,” Majer says. “My job is to support them by understanding what they want to do.”
A dedicated student advocate who has worked extensively with underserved populations, Majer has experience in human resources, organizational development, clinical program development, leadership, and therapeutic counseling as a licensed clinical social worker (LICSW) both in Massachusetts and Florida. They have also worked in the behavioral health field supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds—predominantly queer and BIPOC communities—providing direct one-on-one support, creating programming, and raising funds to meet the needs of communities that lack access to healthcare.
At the larger institutional level, Majer aims to be involved in all central administration conversations about LGBTQIA+ needs to ensure the graduate voice is represented when major choices are made. They also meet one-on-one, creating a safe space for any conversations, questions, or resource needs students may have.
Students are the idea-makers. My job is to support them by understanding what they want to do.
In the weeks and months to come, Majer hopes to work for increased accessibility and resource allocation for LGBTQIA+ student activities. “There hasn’t been this position at Harvard Griffin GSAS before, and I plan to try to increase accessibility and connection with students,” they say.
When it comes to the needs of LGBTQIA+ students, Majer hopes to move toward a model of prevention rather than reaction, taking on the burden of advocacy, reducing institutional harm to lighten the emotional load, and securing increased funding for support. “This work is about trying to free campus from violence,” they say. “It should be a top priority for everyone at Harvard Griffin GSAS.”
A Bridge to Change
As a queer immigrant from Poland who was a student for many years, Majer has a personal stake in the work they do. “I want there to be an additional representative and to serve as a voice for PhD students as we move toward having more centralized resources. I hope to be a bridge between the needs of people on the ground and change on higher levels.”
Majer is excited to partner with students and staff in support of the Harvard Griffin GSAS LGBTQIA+ community—not least of all because of the potential impact of that effort beyond campus. They note that Harvard exists within the wider world and has a responsibility as an institution that promotes EDIB to be a safe place for more marginalized populations.
“Students should have spaces in which they can thrive as queer folks,” they say. “Together, we can make Harvard Griffin GSAS a place where everyone is affirmed and flourishes in their multiple identities.”