Students start national debt education campaign

Shane McKeon, Assistant Campus Editor

Five Northwestern students are launching a campus-wide campaign to educate students on the national debt, sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative University.

The students are participating in “Up to Us” and will compete with 43 other teams on campuses around the country for $10,000 and a chance to be recognized by former President Bill Clinton.

Weinberg senior and team member Devashish Singal cited fears that Millennials will receive reduced Social Security benefits compared to previous generations.

Singal, an international student, said these statistics could threaten the American Dream.

“Coming from India, America for me was the land of opportunity,” he told The Daily. “And I came and saw the national debt, and I learned how it’s affecting the ability of the U.S. to maintain that position.”

Singal, an economics major, said there are two main ways to pay down the national debt: cut spending or raise taxes.

“It’s pretty astonishing to see that if you are in our generation, you could be expected to possibly pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in net taxes towards the national debt over the course of your lifetime,” SESP senior and team member Nikita Ramanujam said in a news release.

The group will hold a forum next week where entrepreneurs will speak about the national debt and its effects on their work.

Weinberg senior Alexander Olivo, another member, said he hopes the forum can make the topic of the national debt less boring and more tangible to students.

“It’s a drab subject, and it’s a long-term subject, not something that will affect a millennial in college right now,” Olivo told The Daily. “It’s definitely something that, if you want to get your message out there, you need to present it in a fashion that’s appealing to students, and we’re hoping this forum can do that.”

On Feb. 12, NU students are invited to Norris University Center to sign a pledge promising to care about the national debt, Singal said.

If the NU team gets more students to sign than the other 43 teams, Singal said, it will receive a cash prize and Clinton’s recognition. Ramanujam said the team aims for more than half the student body — about 4,500 students — to sign.

“When President Obama came to talk at our University, he told us that we had to be the ones to do something and change things,” Ramanujam said in a news release. “I would hope students who heard him speak would care about what their role is going to be in tackling big issues like the national debt, because, essentially, we are going be the ones facing the repercussions, whether we want to admit it or not.”

The campaign will end Feb. 20.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Shane_McKeon