Policy Analysis

Students Speak Out Against Sequestration

December 7, 2012

More than 6,000 science and engineering students have signed and hand-delivered a letter to the local offices of all U.S. senators and House leaders. The letter asks their elected officials to work together and avoid across-the-board budget cuts scheduled for Jan 2, 2013. The cuts would be extremely harmful to scientific research and education and would limit opportunities for the next generation of scientists.

Known as sequestration, the looming cuts are making news headlines for all the wrong reasons.  Sequestration was designed specifically as bad policy to force a compromise in Washington — something  lawmakers failed to  do.

Now, we have less than a month to go before America goes off the dreaded “fiscal cliff.” The Congressional Budget Office details how America will face a double-dip recession with a concommitant jump in unemployment and an ebb in gross domestic product if lawmakers do not take action.

Scientific innovation is responsible for more than half the economic growth in America since World War II. If sequestration occurs,across-the-board cuts will jeopardize future innovation and job growth, making finding employment for recent college graduates even more difficult. Science and engineering students earning Bachelors degrees would find it harder to attend graduate school and earn advanced degrees that are increasingly necessary in our modern economy. The National Science Foundation predicts a loss of up to 1,500 grants due to sequestration, and it is difficult to earn a Ph.D. when the funding required to do research for your thesis is scarce.

Science and engineering students can only hope Congress heeds the will of their constituents and finds a responsible, bipartisan fiscal path forward in the short time remaining.


Policy news and viewpoints for the physics community. The analysis and opinions are those of the APS Office of Public Affairs and do not necessarily represent the entire Society.