GUSA president presents student letter on debt ceiling

At a press conference this afternoon, GUSA President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) stood with a handful of other student body presidents as they unveiled their letter to President Obama, imploring him and other leaders to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling debate and the country’s budget crisis.

Over 100 college and university student body presidents representing over 2 million students signed the letter.  Similar letters will be hand delivered to members of Congress.

Meaney, who spearheaded the initiative along with other members of GUSA, explained that the idea to appeal to the country’s leadership was born out of a conversation during a bus ride about a week ago. The topic of discussion: the discrepancy between how our government ideally works and “the sorry state of the ongoing gridlock over the debt ceiling and deficit.”

“We asked ourselves: How come our leaders can’t seem to work together for the good of the country? Why do they seem to care more about the next election than the next generation?” he said. “Young people are often used as a political football, but we can’t afford to let others speak for us any longer.”

The letter [PDF] is an appeal for bipartisan collaboration that transcends party agendas, ideology, and promises.  “We can’t pass up an opportunity to solve our problems because of pledges, partisanship, or pettiness,” Meaney said. He later denied any reference to the GOP’s Pledge to America, which was released before the 2010 elections and vowed to drastically reduce government spending.

University of Miami Student Body President Brandon Mitchell underscored debt concerns that acutely affect college students, noting that the average college student graduates with about $27, 200 in student loan debt.  Meanwhile, Republicans has made moves to cut Pell Grant funding at several points during the past year.

Public opinion polls indicate the majority of Americans favor reducing the national debt through a compromise between tax increases and spending cuts. In a poll conducted by CNN/ORC International, more than half of the respondents said the Republicans would be to blame if the debt ceiling is not raised. This finding is also corroborated by other polls.

Although the speakers acknowledged the economic calamity that would result from a failure to raise the debt ceiling, they did not offer any specific recommendations on how best to move forward to resolve our budget issues.

However, Meaney pointed to the proposals of the Gang of Six and the Simpson-Bowles Commission as standards for bipartisanship. “And that’s why we support them as a framework from which our leaders should work,” he said.

The letter, signed by over 120 student leaders representing over 2 million college students, signifies a strong mandate to find a compromise, one of the signatories said.

To get the word out and rally support, the campaign has urged people to tweet comments using the hashtag #dowehaveadealyet. Although it is unclear how many people have retweeted the message or used the topic, Tyler Sax (COL ’13) said the topic was trending in D.C. yesterday afternoon. The initiative’s website reached 2,000 unique visitors and 3,000 page views this morning.

When asked if there was a potential communication gap between our generation, Tweeting our frustration, and the leaders our appeals aim to sway, GUSA Vice President Greg Laverriere (SFS ’12) said social media was an increasingly effective means of grabbing national leaders’ attention. Although initially our generation comprised the sole Twitter market, the sphere of influence has expanded. “Every person in leadership has a Twitter now,” Laverriere said.

Meaney and the other signatories do not have any plans for calls to action on other issues. And they do not intend to organize a broad-scale rally that would engage their constituent student populations as a whole. “This is not directed towards political action but towards leadership,” he said.

14 Comments on “GUSA president presents student letter on debt ceiling

  1. LIKE OMG WE”RE ON TWITTER!!!

    This is by far the most egotistical, self important testament to meaningless self aggrandizement, even by GUSA standards, I have ever seen. Never before have so few claimed to be so much to so many. The lack of humility contained into this grandiose talking point, coupled with the grossly inflated sense of influence which produced it goes beyond my poor power to mock. It is simply too big to parody. Let me simply remind our self appointed campus leaders that they have a long way to go before they sleaze their way into the halls of power downtown and that pride is a deadly sin. Meaney and his ilk should sit in Dahlgren in hairshirts and ashes in total shame over this monument to their own sense of self.

  2. Yeah! Damn these students, popularly elected at their respective universities to represent their student bodies, for trying to get involved in our democratic process! Why can’t they be more like Jacob and I, standing passively by as our government becomes a shadow of its former self? Why can’t they understand that, as students, we don’t have, and ought not to have, any voice in national politics? Don’t they know we’re just supposed to stand around on the sidelines, mocking those who take any initiative to become involved? Silly children. Kudos to Jacob for putting these ‘self appointed’ student leaders (elections? what elections?) in their place.

  3. “Meaney, who spearheaded the initiative along with other members of GUSA, explained that the idea to appeal to the country’s leadership was born out of a conversation during a bus ride about a week ago.”

    A week ago? A WEEK AGO?! a week ago.

    ““This is not directed towards political action but towards leadership,” he said.”

    Political action, pish posh. Lazily shaming our leaders works better.

  4. @John

    “Every person in leadership has a Twitter now,” Laverriere said.

    This document has nothing to do with advocating for a policy, but being seen to advocate for policy. It has nothing to do with lobbying congress, but getting one’s name up on Twitter and in campus publications like Vox. It will have no tangible effect on congress, but will make a nice story for Meaney and friends to tell to prospective employers. Indeed, as the great Sir Humphrey Appleby said, “Politicians need activity, it is their substitute for achievement.” This is no less true for our campus leaders (whom received a large boost from certain organizations which do not like to be named) than for the national politicians.

  5. like, really small

  6. Yeah I know it’s the “fun” thing to hate on GUSA and all, but there were 100+ other universities who were involved in this thing… Georgetown kids (not GUSA kids, only a few are actually in GUSA) just so happened to be the ones to step up and organize this.

    So, Jacob, save the hate for when GUSA actually does something stupid.

  7. @ Jefferson

    Do you have any evidence that GUSA has ever done anything smart?

  8. @Jacob-

    You’re missing the point. This isn’t a GUSA initiative. It’s a coalition of students from across the country. A small handful of them (seriously, like 3-4) are part of GUSA. Your argument is equivalent to “The US Senate never gets anything done. There are two US senators from New Jersey. Therefore, all of the citizens from New Jersey are responsible for our government’s lack of progress.”

    But to answer your (misinformed) question, I would say that creating a process to fund student activities was a smart move. I also like having a group who ensures students have a voice in the university administration (for things like the New South renovations, which shouldn;t be left completely up to administrators). Bringing the GoCard to campus was pretty cool, too. I use mine fairly often.

  9. @ Jefferson.

    Look up the Yard sometime. GUSA didn’t invent student representation, it subverted it.

  10. “Never wrestle with a pig: You both get all dirty, and the pig likes it.”

  11. Pingback: #dowehaveadealyet?

  12. Is there anything sadder than a Vox troll? You know, Jakey, there are other places online (e.g. Reddit) where you could get even MORE of that attention you seem to crave.

  13. The thing that got me, is in their argument about college costs going up, they lament how Pell Grants should be higher. The opposite is true!! When you research the loan situation a lot you see… it’s self perpetuating, when colleges see that federal college grants/funding is increased, they think its ok to increase their costs, and so on. http://www.studentloanjustice.org is a good site to see what we have to do. I know that GWU students are more broke than the avg student, any DC college student is sadly, even tho I <3 DC. So I hope people start to really wake up and take this cause on. Shoot!

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