Dear U.S. Government: a message from student leaders
Arizona student leaders are reaching out to government officials and the public to express their concern over the government shutdown and its effect on students.
With the help of student leaders in Arizona and across the United States, Anthony Hessel a graduate student at Northern Arizona University and, vice chair of external affairs for Arizona Students’ Association, a statewide student lobbying group, drafted an open letter. The letter explained how students across the country are being directly affected by the shutdown, which began 14 days ago.
The letter was shared in press release statements, which were sent via email on Oct. 11.
Members of the United States Student Association, ASA, and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students signed the letter, one of them being Zachary Brooks, president of the UA’s Graduate and Professional Student Council. The letter states that students’ federally funded research and grants are being affected and if the shutdown continues, a lapse in funding for programs such as veteran services and child care services could affect students.
“It’s out there and I think we made a statement for all students of the United States,” Brooks said. “We were able to put a really large student voice to some frustration about the shutdown … The main thing is just to stand up for students in this time.”
Hessel said he saw personal effects of the shutdown when the review for a grant application for his research group’s muscle physiology and biomechanics lab work was paused due to the shutdown. The research was inbetween grants and the final review for their next grant was supposed to happen the day after the shutdown, he added.
“It’s just an awkward feeling of stagnation,” Hessel said. “You’re almost like your hands are tied … we’ve been waiting for months to figure it out because grants are a process.”
Hessel said, like him, many other students are involved in federally funded extracurricular projects, whose funding may be delayed if the shutdown continues.
“That lapse of federal funding, that shutdown of these programs kind of devalues the education of the student and devalues the ability of a student later on,” Hessel said. “We just want to make clear that education is being affected and it’s not just a few people.”
Morgan Abraham, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and an ASA board member, said ASUA’s concerns echo those reflected in the letter. Although Abraham wasn’t asked to sign the letter, he said ASUA has also been reaching out to local congressmen and expressing similar concerns.
“I don’t know why I wasn’t really asked to be a part of it,” Abraham said. “It doesn’t really discourage us. We’re still going to be fighting and doing our own thing. I’ve always been a big believer in kind of standing together though … so it probably would’ve been nice had [ASUA] known about that.”
ASUA’s director of national affairs, Zachary Marshall, has been reaching out to Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ron Barber to let them know students are worried about the shutdown’s effects on federal funds.
“When representatives are thinking more in terms of their constituents and how this directly impacts them, it’s a lot easier to make these decisions than when they’re thinking about politics,” Abraham said. “So that’s why we’re just trying to push these individual stories.”
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