Hurricane Relief: How UMass Can Help

Puerto Rico experienced a devastating hurricane in September, and now our support turns to the UMass campus and surrounding communities who are welcoming displaced families.

Support for Our Campus Community | Displaced Families | Visiting Faculty | Displaced Puerto Rican Students

Helping Our Campus Community

UMass Amherst has more than 100 students from Puerto Rico, as well as several faculty and staff members, who may be distressed by what is happening back home. We have several support services in place to assist them.

The Office of Student Life offers Single Stop Resources, a go-to guide for many of the services available to undergraduate and graduate students in need. Also included are several on-campus resources if you want to help others through volunteering.

The Dean of Students Office also has a staff of full-time case managers who work directly with students who are experiencing stress due to academic or personal issues. Case managers can explore a range of services and options for students experiencing distress.

Students who are experiencing economic insecurity or an unexpected financial emergency also have access to the Student Care Supply Closets on campus. Operated by Student Affairs and Campus Life, the closets contain free toiletries and household items.

Additional campus resources include: 

Supporting Displaced Families

As part of our campus community's plan to actively help displaced families arriving in area communities collection bins have been placed in various locations around campus for donations of toiletries and warm winter clothing for children. Donations will be collected until the end of November and then distributed to displaced families arriving in Holyoke from Puerto Rico. Locations for the bins are:

  •     Bartlett (CCPH)
  •     Campus Center    
  •     Crampton Hall/Southwest (Stonewall)
  •     Dickinson (SVRC)
  •     Dining Halls - All    
  •     Furcolo (Welcome Desk)    
  •     Hillel
  •     Memorial Hall
  •     New Africa House (CCPH)
  •     New Africa House (CWC)
  •     Skinner    
  •     Student Union (Student Engagement)
  •     Thoreau (Men and Masculinity)
  •     UMass Police
  •     Whitmore (Dean of Students)
  •     Wilder (CMASS)

These are the items that Holyoke Public Schools has requested for arriving families. Please follow this list:

  • Toiletries for children and families (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, hairbrushes, feminine hygiene products)
  • Warm winter clothing, particularly layers, for children – cotton undershirts, sweatshirts (prefer no hoodies), thermal underwear, fleece leggings
  • Shoes and boots for fall and winter weather
  • New socks and underwear for all ages of children
  • New or gently used winter coats for children and adults
  • Winter accessories – hats, gloves, mittens, scarves – for children and adults
  • Spanish/English dictionaries

We also will be organizing a volunteer day in Holyoke to help distribute collected goods to families. More information will be posted here when plans are finalized.

Support for Visiting Faculty

After discussions with the deans and chancellor, the provost has announced a program to provide some support for visiting faculty from Puerto Rico, with a particular emphasis on individuals with pre-existing connections to the UMass Amherst campus.
These faculty will be appointed for the spring 2018 semester, under a waiver of search. The cost will be borne equally by the college/department and the provost’s office, though some financial assistance from Five Colleges Inc. may be possible. There needs to be a genuine instructional need and an identifiable teaching assignment. The host department should commit to providing logistical support to the visiting faculty member and their family, such as help with housing, transportation, and so on.
Proposals should go to the deans, who will evaluate them and pass along recommendations to the provost.

Displaced Puerto Rican Students

If you are a college student in Puerto Rico or know a student in Puerto Rico who wants to transfer to UMass to continue their education, we have a Domestic Exchange program with several universities in Puerto Rico. Using the Domestic Exchange is the most effective way to explore this option. For more information, contact Domestic Exchange Programs, Undergraduate Student Success at (413) 577-6767.   

Faculty and staff who have been impacted by the hurricane should contact the Office of Human Resources to discuss resources and support available to them.  

Rebuilding after disaster is a long and difficult process. We urge you to take care of yourself and those around you: