Mason Offers Assistance To Students Affected By Shutdown

Billy Ferguson/Fourth Estate

Discounted courses and programs offered through Mason for government employees


The longest government shutdown in U.S. history was temporarily halted on Jan. 25. At the risk of another upcoming shutdown with no end in sight, the U.S. is taking the brunt of the damage, including Northern Virginia’s economy and residents.

Mason faculty members have done extensive research into the actual cost of the shutdown.

Stephen Fuller, an economist and head of the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at Mason, calculated the cost of the shutdown based on the amount federal workers were paid back within the week after the government temporarily reopened.

According to a report by the Washington Business Journal, Fuller found that for the 25 days in January, the shutdown cost the regional economy of the greater Washington area $1.62 billion.

Nationally, a Congressional Budget Office report calculated that the historic five-week shutdown will end up costing the economy close to $11 billion.

The 12-page report warns that the shutdown has had grave effects on individual businesses and employees.

It also reports that the group that experienced the most negative financial effects from the shutdown were federal workers forced to deal with delayed paychecks and compensation, as well as workers in the private sector that lost business.

Organizations and offices at Mason were quick to provide assistance to federal government workers throughout the shutdown, which started in mid-December.

Mason’s business school offered online courses and programs free for federal government workers and contractor employees. Registration opened late in December, and the courses lasted until Feb. 7.

Mason’s Center for the Arts offered discounted performances for federal employees. Some performances offered to federal government employees at $5 per ticket have included the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, a production of The Phantom Tollbooth and Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar.

Mason Athletics also provided free tickets for people who could present their federal employee I.D. to sporting events at Mason throughout the duration of the shutdown.

Mason has organized on-campus events throughout February to provide free food for students affected by the shutdown. Furlough Fridays have been planned and hosted by Mason’s Off-Campus Student Services. They have served coffee, doughnuts, pizza and other foods.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center has also hosted numerous food drives for Northern Virginians affected by the shutdown. The Hylton Center asked for nonperishable foods, as well as financial contributions and grocery-store gift certificates. Food can be delivered Tuesdays through Saturdays during their business hours or during scheduled performances.

President Trump and the Democrats in Congress agreed to fund the government for three weeks. The U.S. government is currently entering the third week of this agreement. If another spending deal is not made by Feb. 15, then the U.S. government will return to a partial shutdown.