Government shutdown impacts Yale

Liana Epstein ’14, an environmental studies major, has recently been in touch with a contact at the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss career possibilities in the fields of water quality and land management.

The correspondence came to an abrupt end Tuesday, when Epstein got the following message via email: “I am out of the office for the duration of the government shutdown.”

The EPA was forced to furlough 94 percent of its employees, and as the government shutdown enters its second day, universities and students continue to experience its impact.

At Yale, the disruptions came in many forms. Students who rely on government databases for research could no longer access them as of Tuesday, and students applying for government jobs were promptly cut off from recruiters. Still, at federally-operated military academies, disruptions were more severe.

Candice Gurbatri ’14, a senior biomedical engineering major, needs to access databases from the National Institutes of Health and ClinicalTrials.gov. But since the government shut down, her access has been cut off.

“It would be frustrating if the assignment were due soon, and it will be frustrating if, when the assignments are due, it’s still shut down,” she said.

Elsewhere at Yale, chemistry students trying to access important databases provided by NASA and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology found the websites shut down. The Library of Congress website also shuttered Tuesday, preventing history students from accessing any documents.

Baobao Zhang ’13 GRD ’18, a graduate student in the Political Science Department and a former multimedia editor for the News, relies largely on government data sets to conduct her research on American politics.

“It’s really frustrating when you study the government, and the government is trying to prevent you from studying the government,” she said.

For students aspiring to work in government next year, the shutdown could not have come at a worse time. Undergraduate students interested in joining the Central Intelligence Agency were informed via email yesterday that an Oct. 8 information session on campus had been cancelled. Seniors seeking to apply for federal government jobs had to put the process on hold.

Yale, like many major universities, relies on the federal government for massive amounts of research funding. The National Institutes of Health is the biggest supplier of research funds at universities across the country, and the next round of grant applications is due Oct. 5. Still, since those grants are not supposed to be distributed until December or January, a major disruption to research funds is unlikely.

Universities that are more reliant on federal funding found themselves in an even more precarious position. Johns Hopkins University is located in Maryland, where more than one in four workers is employes by the federal government, and the school takes in about $1.88 billion in federal grant money. Some of its projects that involve collaboration with federal researchers came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday.

Hopkins sent out a campus-wide email on Tuesday, stating, “many within our community may have family or friends who are federal employees who could experience negative ramifications.”

“The longer this goes on, the more of an impact there will be,” Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea told the News on Wednesday.

In New London, CT, less than 50 miles from New Haven, 142 out of 244 civilian employees at the Coast Guard Academy were furloughed. This includes much of the library and athletic staff. When asked about the academy’s plans were the shutdown to continue, Spokesman Lt. Paul Rhynard demurred.

“Your guess is ultimately as good as anybody else’s,” he said.

At the United States Military Academy in West Point, disruptions were especially severe. All civilian professors were furloughed, the campus supermarket was closed, books could no longer be checked out of the library, maintenance staff was sent home and varsity athletic teams had to suspend travel plans.

“If this continues for more than a few days, we’re gonna have a pretty drastic lifestyle change,” a West Point senior told the News on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media.

A junior at West Point, three of whose professors were sent home on Tuesday, expressed disdain for Congress. He said the shutdown demonstrated “complete disregard for people who do a lot for this country.”

Negotiations at the White House have so far produced little in the way of a resolution to the shutdown.

The federal government last shut down in the winter of 1995-1996.

Correction: Oct. 3

Due to an editing error this article previously sated that more than one in four workers at Johns Hopkins University are employed by the federal government. In fact, more than one in four workers in the state of Maryland, where Johns Hopkins is located, are employed by the federal government.

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