Government shutdown has limited effects on NMU students

Amanda Monthei

Ronnie Allen, an environmental conservation senior at NMU and an intern at the Seney Wildlife Refuge in Seney, Mich., likely won’t be able to go to the final weekends of his internship at the refuge in the central Upper Peninsula due to the shutdown of the federal government, which occurred at midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

“It’s a bummer because I only have two weeks to go for my six-month internship, so it would be nice to finish it up,” Allen said. “I work there as a visitors services intern. I work at the information desk in the visitors center. I give library programs to local schools and do big events — I just did a ‘youth in the outdoors’ event which had 60 kids and 30 volunteers.”

The shutdown has presented an inconvenience for Allen, other students are experiencing the loss of both paychecks and the risk of losing federally-issued benefits as a result of the partial government shutdown.

However, campus-wide impacts are not significant at this point, but may escalate with the duration of the shutdown, according to Director of Communication and Marketing Cindy Paavola.

“As long as the shutdown is relatively short-term, there should be no major impact to the university operations or to students,” Paavola said. “If the shutdown goes on for quite a while we anticipate that the first impact would be some of the federally-funded grants would have delayed payments.

“Unless it goes on for a really enormous amount of time, which hopefully won’t be the case, students won’t be impacted by the federal shutdown.”

The shutdown began earlier this week as a result of an ideological schism between Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House of Representatives, who were unable to find a middle-ground on the inclusion of controversial provisions regarding the Affordable Care Act in the spending bill for the new fiscal year.

The shutdown has put more than 800,000 government employees out of work, according to Reuters.com. Employees who are temporarily furloughed include those working for government agencies like the EPA and NASA, as well as those working at national parks and other federally-run recreation areas, including Allen’s internship location at the Seney Wildlife Refuge.

The United States Postal Service, the FBI and other federal agencies deemed essential are not closed — though the employees of these agencies will go unpaid for the duration of the shutdown. “Obamacare,” as the Affordable Care Act has been called, is still in effect as of midnight Tuesday, Oct. 1, making it possible for uninsured individuals to apply for health insurance packages through the Affordable Care Act, according to www.Reuters.com.

Because of the various information surrounding the government shutdown, ASNMU released an email to the entire student body on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 2, which outlined the major facts of the shutdown.

“Students had a lot of misconceptions about what services would be interrupted and what wouldn’t,” Lopota said. “Really we’re just trying to provide a basis of information all in one place that people will understand. As a student government we felt that it was our responsibility to raise awareness in an unbiased way.”

Lopota also outlined a few other ways in which NMU students were being impacted by the shutdown, including students who are receiving Women, Infant and Children (WIC) or food stamp benefits as well as those receiving educational benefits from the military.

“I know that we do have students that are receiving educational benefits and GI bill, and that is being affected in a major way,” Lopota said. “We’ve heard from students that are being notified that they will no longer be receiving that as long as (the government is) shut down — they don’t know how they are going to pay for groceries or rent.”

The last time the federal government shut down was in December 1995 and spanned to January 1996 for a total of 21 days and cost taxpayers close to $1.4 billion, according to Reuters.