Government shutdown affects friends and family of Calvin students

This October marked the first time in 17 years that the U.S. government shut down, and the inaction of Congress is having a direct impact on family and friends of Calvin students.

“My brother got in a severe car accident and was getting food stamps, but those were stopped because of the shutdown, and now he is struggling to feed himself and his son,” reported Calvin freshman Rachaelyn Woods.

The shutdown is also affecting those who are employed through the government. “My aunt, who is a biologist, is out of work,” shared freshman Kara Bilkert.

The shutdown is even conflicting with the research projects of students still in college. “My cousin can’t do her graduate research because the [national] park is shut down,” said Winter.

Not only have national parks closed their gates, but some museums have as well, including Grand Rapids’ own Gerald R. Ford Museum.

According to their website, the museum will be  “unable to blog, post to Facebook or tweet during the Federal Government shutdown,” and that “all National Archives facilities are closed and all activities are canceled.”

But for many Calvin students, however, it was just another normal day.

“I haven’t heard a lot about it — I feel a little out of it because there is so much going on here,” admitted student Nicole Winter. “I feel like I should be paying more attention; I should be going online and checking the news more often.”

Winter is not alone. Many students stressed the importance of being up-to-date on what is happening outside of Calvin’s campus.

“It’s important because we are the people — we vote these people into office, and we’re all affected by their decisions,” explained student Holly DeJong.

Leah Samuelson agrees. “Right now we are supposed to be making our own opinions,” she said.

Facebook proved to be the most reported source by Calvin students for finding out about the government shutdown, but information about the shutdown can also be found all over television, internet and radio.

The shutdown occurred because Congress was unable to pass a spending bill, resulting in many government-funded institutions and projects being forced to a halt.

This year, controversy over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) caused House Republicans to face off with the Democrats in the Senate. The House passed several spending bills, but the Senate rejected them.

Eventually time ran out before an agreement could be made, and the shutdown took effect.

While the initial implications of a government shutdown might not be apparent to students, the impact is surfacing with the continuation of the shutdown.

“I didn’t know much about it before, but we have been talking about it in class,” said freshman Rachel Mack. “The more we discuss it the more I realize that it has trickling effects for everyone.”