College joins Global Student Haven Initiative to support students affected by global crises

Palvasha Khan

Ella Marx/The Williams Record


The College has joined the Global Student Haven Initiative (GSHI), a program that seeks to pave a way for college-eligible students affected by war or other overseas crises to attend U.S. colleges and universities. Pomona College recently launched the initiative in response to the war in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Williams and Pomona — alongside Bowdoin College, California Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, New York University, Smith College, and Trinity College — have committed to providing financial aid and access to campus resources, such as housing assistance and mental health support, to impacted students with demonstrated need. “The initiative seeks to help students overcome barriers to carry on their education and prepare for eventual return to their home nation,” the program’s website states. The program has also invited other higher education institutions to join.

In an email to the Record, Associate Director of Admission Markus H. Burns ʼ06 wrote that prior to the implementation of the program, refugee and displaced student applicants typically used the same application platforms as all applicants to the College. With the program’s implementation, the College announced in December 2022, displaced students applying to the College now have access to an additional GSHI-specific platform that contains questions.

Burns said that these questions, formulated in collaboration with international college access experts and non-governmental organizations, seek to allow students to provide admission offices with contextual information to aid in reviewing their application materials.

“While each of our institutions was having our own internal conversations around supporting applicants, Pomona helped to organize us to look at some common barriers to U.S. institutions for qualified students who are displaced, are refugees, or are otherwise impacted by war, natural disasters and other global crises,” Burns continued. “We are thrilled to be a part of [the consortium] because of the opportunities it provides to work with other institutions to amplify our voice and help mitigate some of the challenges faced by displaced students when applying to U.S. institutions.” The consortium will also allow for sharing of information and best practices among participating institutions.

President Maud S. Mandel, the office of admission and student financial services, the office of the dean of the College, and faculty members together decided that the College should join the initiative.

The College has not yet received any GSHI applications. Regardless, Burns said the College hopes to provide accepted students with pro-bono counseling when they arrive on campus in the fall.

“This initiative will allow students to more easily identify a group of colleges committed to supporting impacted students and give them a way to shed light on their background and context so that we can support them through the application process in ways that are responsive to their unique circumstances,” Burns wrote.