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Government shutdown affects alumna, staff

While 800,000 workers are out of a job and $12.5 million dollars are lost per hour according to NBC News, PLNU alumni, staff, and students come to terms with what the long term effects of the government shutdown could mean for them as it goes into its 14th day.

One alumna, who works as a Law Enforcement Park Ranger at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Fort Smith, Montana, Annalisa Jones graduated in spring of 2013 and has dealt first-hand with the effects of the shutdown. Instead of working a normal shift, Jones’ new schedule consists of five days of four-hour shifts and a following week break with no pay.

“I was required to work with no guarantee of pay and have been since furloughed,” Jones said. “No one is allowed to use any of these facilities unfortunately and it is causing great financial damage within the local economy as guided fishing trips are the main attraction to the park and town this time a year.”

Jones said that the worst part of all of this is that the public is being kept from the best things that nature has to offer.

“Our National Parks are being closed to the public and that is a shame since people, from locals to travelers from all over the world, have saved and planned trips and are now being denied access to one of America’s best ideas,” Jones said via email.

Political science professor on campus, Doctor Linda Beail, has seen the financial difficulties inflicted upon others, but also on her own family. Beail’s husband works for the US Forest Service, and he has been out of work for the last week.

“The uncertainty that comes with that, both financial and not knowing how to plan day-to-day for how long he’ll be home, is very stressful,” Beail said.

Beail said that the workers out of a job are not being considered as a part of the greater issues discussed in government.

“[The] shutdown is affecting the livelihood of about 800,000 federal government employees who are not really the focus of the political struggle in WashingtonDC,” said Beail.

Beail also predicts that these services, if left abandoned, will lag government program progress.

“Over time, the cumulative effect of the backlog of work all these people do will delay or eliminate services the government provides that we all depend on — from designing, building and repairing infrastructure like federal roads and courthouses we all use, to backlogs in processing visas and passports for students wanting to study abroad,” she said.

Professor Rosco Williamson of the political science department points out students could see cuts in federal financial aid if the shutdown persists long enough. Williamson also commented that if the debt ceiling is not raised after the shutdown, interest rates for student loans will increase.

“Some students also have family members who either work for the federal government or work for companies with contracts with the federal government and these families will likely feel some economic pressures,” Williamson said.

While students may not directly feel the weight of the government shutdown, it is likely, if this continues that they will, according to Williamson.

“The longer the shutdown goes on, the more the likelihood that there will be delays in access to things that matter to many students, like Pell Grants and passports,” Williamson said.