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Five-week economic campaign to educate
on national debt effects

By Mica Stephens, Contributor
Published: Tue Nov 19, 2013

Daily Beacon

It's Up to Us to combat the national debt.

From Jan. 21 through Feb. 21, 2014, Up to Us, a nationwide non-partisan campaign, will continue its fight against the national debt crisis kicking off its second year of advocacy, education and competition.

Working to increase awareness among college students, Up to Us seeks to create unity and resolution through education.

Andrew Valk, head of finance for UT's Up to Us chapter, explained the campaign's goals.

"Our goal is really basically a universal goal of the program: increase awareness of our federal government's long-term debt, increase the ability of students to draw personal connections to the federal budget and debt and increase engagement around the issue of our federal government's long-term debt," Valk said.

Twenty-five universities participate in the Up to Us national campaign. These 25 student teams were carefully chosen through a competitive application process.

After the five-week campaign, a panel of distinguished judges will asses each team and decide who most effectively raised awareness, increased personal connections and inspired action on campus. The winner of the competition will receive a $10,000 cash prize, in addition to recognition by President Clinton at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University.

Many students involved, like Chelsea Padgham, head of multimedia production, found Up to Us through the economics club.

"Every semester the economics club looks for a national event to compete in," Padgham said. "For example, last year, we were the winning team in the national iOme challenge. When looking through potential competitions this year, Up to Us really resonated with our group, and we felt we make a great impact on the student body by participating."

Samuel Rule, the deputy team leader and head of marketing for Up to Us, mentioned several ways students can join the movement, including "contributing to the campaign through a partnered campus organization," and stopping by the Up to Us table on Pedestrian Walkway or Presidential Court during the campaign.

"Here, we will be asking students to complete a small survey or use social media to help create some buzz about the campaign," Rule said. "Students in return will be receiving different types of swag and also be entered in to win cash prizes."

The campaign's primary components include a five week Lift the Debt project and a discussion panel. In partnership with TRECS, Lift the Debt asks students to track their workouts in terms of weight lifted or calories burned with the intention of reaching 17 trillion, the country's current debt.

Rule said students are not likely to break a billion.

"But we want students to realize how much $17 trillion really is in perspective," Rule added. "Any student can get involved and track the metrics on any given day. They don't have to commit for the five weeks; they can just enter in once. We are looking to have an easy-to-use website up and running to track these metrics. This event will also include drawings for cash prizes, gift cards and other pending prizes."

The panel, which will include College Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and knowledgeable faculty, will explore long-term debt and deficit issues, bipartisan solutions and a keynote speaker in Cox Auditorium.

Kayla McMurry, team leader and head of event, said now is the time to begin understandting the impact neglecting the national debt will have on the U.S. in the future.

"(We want to bring) a better understanding of what the debt means to our generation," McMurry said. "We will ultimately be paying the price of the debt right now through things like higher taxes and Social Security cuts, so we need to start getting involved."


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Phone: 865-974-3303 ~ Fax: 865-974-4601 ~ Email: economics@utk.edu

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