Originally published Oct. 2, 2013

The pandemonium of a government shutdown is seen well beyond the limits of Washington, including at the secluded Allendale Campus of Grand Valley State University.

However, considering the school’s identity as a public institution, the effects aren’t as direct as one might think.

“Current students will see no effect from the federal shutdown; classes, housing, dining, student services, and normal university operations are state — not federal — functions,” said Matt McLogan, vice president of University Relations at GVSU. “Grand Valley has contracts with the federal government; examples are TRIO, the small business outreach program (SBTDC), and selected research projects. So far, work in these activities continues and no university employees have been impacted by the federal closure.”

The GVSU community could feel the effects outside the academic sphere, though.

“It’s not so much how it affects GVSU, but everyone as individuals,” said Whitt Kilburn, associate professor of political science. “Flu season is almost upon us, but the Center for Disease Control has to stop its flu vaccine program. Food safety, air and water quality monitoring from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture has been reduced.”

Professor research could also be halted with a cut-off of federal information.

“Perhaps most generally, anyone reliant on access to data provided by the federal government is affected,” Kilburn said. “Businesses and individuals who use data from the U.S. Census Bureau, for example, will find that data access is suspended. Various websites used to access census and survey data are down.”

Kilburn added that some GVSU students will feel the effects more than others.

“Student veterans could lose benefits if the shutdown continues for more than two weeks,” he said. “Any GVSU education students who study, teach or assist with Head Start programs could see that as Head Start programs begin to close, their education is affected. Students who receive disability benefits from the federal government could lose support.”

The effects may not be so direct, either.

“Health sciences students could be affected by a shutdown at the National Institutes of Health. For example, clinical research trials and grant funding operations are halted,” Kilburn said.

As more consequences come to light, McLogan said the university is monitoring them daily to gain a better understanding of how the GVSU community could be impacted.


Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/10/cant-shut-us-down