5 Ways Universities Are Dealing with the Shutdown
The Government Shutdown began more than two weeks ago. Since then, news outlets everywhere have been covering the many effects of the Shutdown, large and small. The national parks and national monuments are closed. Any federal employee deemed “non-essential” is on furlough. The list goes on.
The Government Shutdown has had major effects on colleges and university across the country. Although the effects on college students are less dramatic than the images of veterans knocking over gates to gain access to federal monuments, they are far reaching and have major long-term consequences.
Here are five ways that the Government Shutdown affects college education:
1. Sexual Assault Investigations Abruptly Cease
According to the Huffington Post, one of the first effects of the Government Shutdown on college campuses was the abrupt halt of sexual assault investigation services. Additionally, colleges and universities are unable to investigate alleged Title IX noncompliance as well as allegations of violations of the federal gender equality law.
That is because the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is responsible for these investigations. Currently, nearly 95 percent of all Office for Civil Rights employees are on furlough. Additionally, Clery Center inquiries on campus sexual assaults are suspended due to a federal funding freeze.
Many students are concerned about the halt to assault investigations and fear that the federal government has compromised their safety. Furthermore, students are angry that existing investigations – for example the ongoing investigation at Yale University – have been put on pause.
2. Military Academies Are In Disarray
The United States has five military service academies. So far, the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York is completely closed. The Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and the United States Naval War Academy have cancelled many classes. At West Point, the United States Military Academy, teachers have to teach more classes in order to cover for furloughed, civilian professors.
All five military academies are experiencing other difficulties thanks to the Government Shutdown. Academic resources, including libraries, media labs and tutoring centers, have been closed at all five service academies.
3. Federal Research Funding Stalls Indefinitely
Most colleges and universities receive federal funding for a number of things, including research grants. As university scientific research has been deemed “non-essential,” most universities have been forced to halt existing research programs. Furthermore, they will be unable to begin new research programs until the government reopens.
Halted research programs include vaccine trials and other medical testing. Although many universities will try to keep these programs running as long as possible without federal funding, most simply cannot afford to continue research without federal funding.
The halt to university research also directly affects the student employment rate. Many students work part-time in research facilities during their college years. Because the research programs have lost their funding, these students are out of a job until further notice. Full time researchers and scientists may also lose their jobs.
4. Scholarly Resources Stop Publishing
Many common sources of information for research papers and assignments are either not available or not up-to-date. The Government Shutdown means that the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institute and the National Archives are completely closed. Many students would access these sources – either in person or online – to complete their academic work. However, they are unable to do so under the current shutdown conditions.
Although other sources of information are still available online, much of it is simply not being kept up-to-date. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fedstats.gov, Data.gov and the Education Resources Information Center are a few of the many sources that are no longer up-to-date.
Students report that it is difficult to complete basic assignments without access to the information that they need.
5. Student Veteran Services Cease To Exist
The Government Shutdown has hit student veterans the hardest. Although immediate education benefits will continue to be processed for now, there are no guarantees that student veterans will be able to remain in school if the shutdown continues to go on. Additionally, the government has disabled hotline phone numbers for student veterans and career services have been suspended.
Finally, some student veterans who are also members of the National Guard are on furlough. This means that they will be unable to attend school until after the Shutdown is over.
The Government Shutdown has had many effects. National Parks and Monuments are closed to the public and hundreds of thousands of federal employees are on furlough until further notice. Still, many college students are also feeling the effects of the Government Shutdown.
In particular, there are five major effects of the Government Shutdown on college students. First, sexual assault investigations have been suspended. Second, the government has forced all five military service academies to either shut down or operate on minimal resources. Third, federal funding for scientific and academic research has dried up. This has led to a decrease in available part-time jobs for students. Fourth, scholarly resources that students need to do their academic coursework are no longer up-to-date (or available at all). Finally, benefits and services for student veterans have been greatly reduced or, in some cases, have disappeared completely.
It is clear that the Government Shutdown may last for a while longer. There is no way to tell what the long-term effects on university students will be. However, even in the Government Shutdown ends soon, it may take months or even years to get things back on track to the way things were before.