Despite the vandalism on campus that suggested otherwise, I think it’s probably safe to say that most students here at Goucher were mostly unaffected by the government shutdown. Financial aid continued without any hitches and students studying abroad next semester probably weren’t prevented from doing so because of passport renewal services being shut down, considering those services were only shut down for about a week.
In a way, it’s too bad that we weren’t all that affected. If we had been affected, I think there would have been a lot more uproar than the campus vandalism that occurred. Instead of chalking up Van Meter Highway, politically-conscious Goucher students probably should have called each other to action – something that I think we should all do when it comes to being informed and involved in the politics and policies of our nation. If we don’t, we will continue to allow Congress to act in ways that are not in the nation’s best interest and that are not in our best interest as college students.
If Goucher were a public institution, many science majors (or people involved in any scientific research) may have been affected because scientific research considered “nonessential” at public universities was halted. Military academies were also greatly affected; the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. was completely shut down during the government pause. Students at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. couldn’t check out books, and those at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs could not access their media lab, tutoring center, or library. Other military academies canceled some classes because civilian teachers were temporarily furloughed.
Of course, just because we didn’t encounter those problems doesn’t mean the shutdown didn’t affect us at all. Because all federal websites were shut down, anyone who may have needed those websites for research purposes was unable to access them. Anyone traveling during the shutdown probably had to wait in long security lines at the airport because the TSA was forced to furlough nonessential employees.
While all of these effects were temporary, however, the shutdown itself points to a much deeper problem with national politics. The fact that our government is so dogmatic in their political beliefs that they would hold a law hostage reveals a major problem that can occur in a partisan political system like ours. The shutdown itself may not be the real problem here – perhaps the real problem is inflexibility of Congressmen. Olivia Shestopal ’15 echoed this sentiment, saying, “Truth be told, a shutdown really isn’t the end of the world. … The real issue is that Republicans are now so vested in tearing apart the Democratic Party that they have forgotten to take care of the people who elected them. … The Republicans don’t get to decide that they don’t like a law and therefore hold it hostage. … That’s not a way to govern, and it’s not the way to stay true to your constituents.”
While the Goucher bubble may have protected most of us from the effects of the shutdown, we are in no way less-affected by the heart of the issue. Goucher is a fairly unified campus in terms of political beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that we should become rigid in these beliefs. Although House Democrats may not have caused the government shutdown directly, that doesn’t mean that they are entirely innocent, and seeing Republicans make a decision that is not in their constituents’ best interest should warn all Congressmen that they were elected into office to serve us, the people of the United States of America, not to cling to partisan ideations that lead to hatred across the aisle. Hatred will get us nowhere – Congressmen of all political ideations must work together to uphold the tenets of our nation and serve the people to the best of their abilities.
But we as citizens cannot expect Congress to do it alone. As college students, we have a strong voice in the nation, and we can use our voices to tell our government what we want. We can and should vote in every election. We should actively participate in our government by staying informed and talking about our ideals. We should keep our minds open and be willing to work together with people whose beliefs may not align with ours 100 percent. Only by doing our duty as citizens can we hope for change in our government.