University affected by shutdown
January 27, 2019
We are now currently in the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. Many people might then justifiably be worried that this would affect public schools like the University. While it is true that the University is a public institution of the State of Illinois and not the federal government, this seems like a justifiable concern. However, the effects of the federal shutdown may not be as apparent to many as classes begin as normal, but still should be examined in an era of less investment in higher education.
Many people on campus might still remember the state funding controversy wherein the University had to deal with the fact that the State of Illinois was one of gridlock. This lack of funding had major effects. It was a major relief to students and faculty alike when the State of Illinois changed again. However, federal funding is also incredibly important to many public schools, including but not limited to the University.
In general, there is more federal funding for education than state funding. However, this federal funding comes in many different forms, from research funds, Pell grants and many other resources. While many of these current funds are protected during a government shutdown, the shutdown can do things such as prevent these programs from accepting new requests for funding, putting a freeze on long term government commitment to higher education.
Furthermore, a lack of federal funding has the potential to affect more than just public institutions. Many private colleges and universities receive research funding from the federal government and Pell Grants aren’t restricted to paying tuition at public colleges. The government shutdown therefore has the capacity to affect all aspects of higher education.
It seems fairly obvious that having a government that is shutdown would have consequences for the people who depend on it to operate smoothly, which is essentially every American. However, as we approach nearly a month with the government shutdown we should urge ourselves not to view this as normal.
The government being shut down is having far reaching consequences already, from messy parks to laid off workers, even to food quality inspections. Moreover, the long term effects it has on the credibility of the nation is devastating. Despite this, it is easy to wake up, go to class, and live day to day unaffected by the nature of gridlock in Washington.
I however want to hope that there are some matters that so vital that they draw together bipartisan support. I recall my days in high school when the Illinois government, despite severe gridlock, passed an emergency bill to ensure that schools K-12 would receive funding. I hope that the powers in Washington come to the same conclusion that there are somethings worth putting your differences aside over.
Collin is a sophomore in DGS.