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Jaime Danies / Senior Staff Photographer

Faculty started to contact members of the administration within a week of the hurricane to offer positions in their labs and resources to students from Puerto Rico.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Columbia is seeking researchers and faculty at campus labs to accommodate graduate students from the University of Puerto Rico.

Thousands of people have been internally displaced in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September, and universities have been quick to respond: In October, Brown committed to enrolling up to 50 students from the University of Puerto Rico, and New York University announced in November that it would waive tuition for about 50 displaced students.

The number of students whom Columbia eventually hosts will depend on how many spots open up at labs, and the University is currently canvassing principal investigators in order to find those willing to host a student. The University then plans to contact the University of Puerto Rico with possible openings.

According to Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Carlos Alonso, faculty started to contact members of the administration within a week of the hurricane to offer positions in their labs and resources to students from Puerto Rico. Columbia worked with the Leadership Alliance, a national consortium of colleges working to encourage diversity in the humanities and sciences, to determine how to effectively respond.

Columbia initially looked into offering to host both undergraduate and graduate students, but the University of Puerto Rico said that it did not want to send its undergraduates abroad. For graduate students, displaced students will be matched with researchers in their area of study. Columbia will waive tuition costs for the students, who will nevertheless have to cover their own travel, housing, and living expenses.

Alonso said that hosting graduate students was imperative to allowing them to finish their degrees.

“It’s going to require that students be able to identify a suitable venue at Columbia, but we think that given the long-term prospects for the resumption of research in some venues in Puerto Rico, this … will allow students to advance forward in their degree,” Alonso said.

cara.maines@columbiaspectator.com | @columbiaspec

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