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Impending shutdown disastrous for students

Congress has once again failed to complete its basic job description and is relying on a temporary spending bill to prevent utter failure. On October 2, President Barack Obama declared he would not be signing another temporary bill, giving Congress eight weeks to learn how to compromise and fund America’s next fiscal year.

Failure to approve a budget will result in the suspension of many programs, and, unfortunately, college students will feel the brunt of such negligence. 

Since the modern congressional budgeting process took effect in 1976, there have been 17 government shutdowns, the latest of which took place in October of 2013.

The shutdown forced the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to suspend any and all sexual assault investigations, according to the Huffington Post. 

“OCR investigations are not an excepted activity and have been suspended until the shutdown ends,” Education Department spokesman Cameron French told the Huffington Post. “Approximately 94 percent of department staff is on furlough as a result of the shutdown.”

Students across the country were informed that their cases were abandoned and would remain that way indefinitely until a budget was approved. Their rights were no longer protected under the chaotic society a nonfunctioning government had created. 

Luckily, the shutdown was resolved in 16 days, making repercussions minimal for most students. However, an extended furlough would have proven disastrous. 

Funding for research also took a near-critical hit due to the shutdown. Many universities had their research-funding cut and faced shutting down their programs all together if a compromise was not reached. 

Researchers at the University of Hawaii were conducting an investigation of eosinophilic meningitis, when they were barred from their facility. The researches were forced to leave behind years of research as they waited for access to their work. 

According to USF’s website, the university “ranks tenth worldwide among universities granted U.S. utility patents and is ranked among the top 50 universities in the nation, public or private, for research expenditures.”

If that funding were to suddenly end, students would no longer be able to continue the research that has brought USF national attention. 

The current looming shutdown also caused the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare to layoff 52 percent of its employees if a resolution could not be made, as reported by U.S. News and World Report. This would heavily dampen the functionality of clinics and services provided by the department, many of which are utilized by students. 

In 2013, Congress was able to come to a compromise and fulfill its duty.  Realizing that its stubborn actions were causing harm to the public, it finally chose to work together and fund our government. 

Two years later, we find ourselves facing the same crisis. Our elected officials are butting heads instead of doing their job. Failing to fund our government will affect so much more than government employees. 

An extended shutdown would seriously hinder the progress of all students. We will soon feel the consequences of our government’s failures unless Congress overcomes its disagreements within the next few weeks. We cannot afford to have our services and funding denied.

Elisa Santana is a junior majoring in mass communications.