This country is going to the dogs. And my research is going right along with it.

For when the Republicans decided that the Affordable Care Act was a worthy enough cause to

shut down the federal government, they disabled all the federally funded websites from NASA to

the US Census Bureau. To be perfectly selfish (and I am going to be), this brings certain aspects

of my projects in various classes to a halt.


Unless you are lucky enough to be awarded a grant you wrote yourself, most undergraduate

students do not have the money to pay for the data necessary to conduct research projects. High-
resolution satellite images from privately funded companies can run upwards of thousands of

dollars. The same goes for data obtained by almost any independent corporation – you want

access, you show them the cash. Sometimes if you offer to provide them a service in analyzing

it, they will give you something in exchange; but this can create a situation that only sets your

project back.


As with most college upperclassmen, I am now at the point in my educational career where a

majority of my grades are based on large research projects. They can be group projects, solo

expeditions, presentations, or papers. Regardless of their form, they all require a necessary

ingredient: data. And lots of it. But with the federal government indefinitely furloughing their

workforce, these websites could be down for weeks.


I’m sure there are shady back-door ways to download data, but I’m not about that life. I like my

data the way I like my air travel: cheap and reliable. And free is about as cheap as you can get.

Admittedly, there was a time where I would have rejoiced at this news, using it as an excuse

to read bad romance novels and watch reruns of “It’s Always Sunny.” But I actually like my

projects, and I enjoy working on them. When you have an investment in the procedure and the

outcome, it is frustrating to come upon a roadblock that you literally have no control over.


C’mon, Congress. You have already defunded education to the point where most of us are

thousands of dollars in debt at graduation. You can’t even agree on a set of primary and

secondary educational standards so students can get into college. Now you may not even provide

the scores of us who may be working mimimum wage jobs in the future with health care. And

then you steal one of the few, formerly reliable things in life right out from under us? For shame,

Capitol Hill. For shame.


I am really hoping that our representatives decide to fast forward this little rendition of “West

Side Story” and get to the alternate ending. The one where no one ends up killing themselves and

all the things that were once free become accessible once again.