Weeks ago, I got an email from CalFresh letting me know that my benefits would be dispersed out of schedule because students signing up for CalFresh benefits were expected to face longer processing as a result of the recent government shutdown.
This was the first time I had been affected by the shutdown, and while I still had the privilege of receiving benefits, there are thousands of previously unpaid government workers (and their families) that will have to readjust now that the shutdown is over. UCSB students around you could potentially be facing major difficulties in their lives, and it’s important to be mindful of how a government shutdown can have negative impacts on many of us.
Another way in which UCSB students are impacted by the shutdown is if they applied for research grants. According to the UCOP official website, both undergraduate and graduate students might have had to wait an extended period of weeks for their research and fellowship funding because, again, individual processing for proposals fell behind. For example, proposals conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) would fall under those affected by the shutdown.
Here at UCSB, the impact of the shutdown was relatively minor, mainly because the UC system is under the purview of the California government instead of the federal government’s. These issues were pushed to the side as national concerns ranging from food safety issues to hurricane preparation delays took the spotlight. While these national problems might not have affected students of UCSB, they definitely did affect us as citizens of the U.S.
A report titled “#ShutdownStories” compiled by the BBC explains that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had to put a halt on tons of food inspections, potentially allowing for the food distribution of uninspected products. That same report also mentions a delay in hurricane preparation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will now have to postpone any potential upgrades to hurricane preparation until 2020.
In addition, immigration services were also hit hard according to the BBC report, and it is estimated that up to 800,000 immigration cases will be delayed — with 42,000 cases already cancelled on Jan. 11.
It’s easy for me to continue living as a happy-go-lucky UCSB student because my family and overall personal life have not been deeply impacted by the government shutdown. However, after reading and researching testimonials and statistics regarding the impact of the shutdown on Americans, I was surprised and humbled to see that for other students, this may not be the case. Many students may be experiencing difficulty as a result of the shutdown, which could affect in varying degrees themselves, their families, and their friends.
Extending a hand of empathy and encouraging a dialogue on not only the shutdown but also its impacts on our society are free and friendly ways of giving back to our community. The government shutdown may have left traumatic marks on our society, but times of hardship like this one can also unite us and lay a foundation for necessary change.