Government shutdown affects BYU students nationwide


The arguments continue in Washington, D.C., but the entire country, including several BYU students both in Provo and elsewhere, have been affected.

Nearly one-third of BYU students interning in Washington, D.C. were immediately furloughed. Students said they are now both

Students at the Washington Seminar who have been furloughed because of the government shutdown look in vain for other activities that have not been closed. Photo courtesy Elliott Miller.
Students at the Washington Seminar who have been furloughed because of the government shutdown look in vain for other activities that have not been closed. Photo courtesy Elliott Miller.

IMG_20131005_183428_447unemployed and bored.

“I got an email (from the office where I work) to all interns saying, ‘Watch news and social media. If the government shuts down, don’t come back to work,'” said Bryan Williams, an intern on Capitol Hill. “Not all of us are out of work, but about 80% of interns working for a congressman have been furloughed.”

Director of the Barlow Center, David Magleby, said they tried to engage students with various other activities, but all government museums and monuments are closed in Washington this week, leaving students with little to do. Even seemingly unrelated things, such as the Saturday football game at the naval academy, have been cancelled. As an alternative, furloughed students went on a kayaking expedition but discovered that the Potomac River is also closed.

“The first day it’s kind of exciting — you get a day off work,” Williams said. “But by the second day, you’re kind of ready to go back to work.”

He expressed frustration at the shutdown, as it was cutting into his limited time at an exciting internship opportunity.

Magleby, however, said it has been an interesting educational opportunity for students. “I think it’s reinforcing a lot of things we’ve talked about in class,” he said. “If students didn’t already know it takes two bodies of Congress to pass a budget, they do now.”

He added that this has been an unusual semester at the Barlow Center, with breaking news events from the shooting at the naval yard to the government shutdown.

Williams said that although things have slowed down in the city, he has been impressed by the community’s response to the shutdown.

“There’s been an outreach by a surprisingly large sector of the community,” Williams said. “There’s a recognition that those who have been furloughed are victims of the government. Some restaurants are even offering free food to all government workers.”

Williams and the other furloughed students have taken advantage of some of these opportunities. One day they got free cupcakes, and on another the National Geographic museum gave them free admission.

Magleby said he hoped the shutdown would not last long, but if it did he would find other ways to enhance the students’ educational opportunities, perhaps by requesting help from local universities.

Meanwhile, BYU students miles away from the stalemated Congressional debates, students in Provo are also affected by the shutdown.

Some students have been anxious about their federal tuition aid. However, the government shutdown should not affect federal pell grants, federal direct loans or campus-based financial aid programs, according to the Department of Education.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said some student research has stalled because students are no longer able to use the federal Census Bureau for information, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has limited information online.

“For students who may experience this frustration, administrators at the Harold B. Lee Library recommend that they talk with the appropriate subject specialist at the library to identify possible options to obtaining the information they need,” Jenkins said.

She added that some areas have been unaffected as yet. Travel by BYU entities like the Kennedy Center has been able to continue as normal for now. It is unclear how students’ ability to receive tax transcriptions will be affected.

“Although it is difficult to assess how the shutdown will impact BYU if it continues, departments and areas on campus are staying in touch with their colleagues across the country,” Jenkins said.

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