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Up to Us - Economics Students Win 3rd in National Competition

Posted: April 9, 2013
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The University of Texas at Austin was selected as one of twelve universities to compete in a nationwide campus competition to raise awareness about the long-term U.S. fiscal debt challenge — Up to Us is a first-of-its-kind, six-week challenge to engage young people on college campuses across the country on the federal government's long-term debt. The competition was sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and Net Impact.

The student teams from these universities took part in a competition to bring the debt discussion to their peers through independently designed campaigns which resulted in an unprecedented number of student events, conversations with members of Congress and social media actions related to young people and the nation’s fiscal challenges.

The campaigns were judged by a team of national debt experts on the basis of the number of students engaged, the level of student awareness after six weeks, and creativity-- among other metrics. The University of Texas–Austin team finished third in the competition and scored high for their creative and thought-provoking campaign. They organized seminar presentations given to various groups on campus to educate them on fiscal debt matters; and facilitated access to Debt Bomb, an iPhone application that allows users to look at the debt and take action. The team also promoted “fiscal debt week” by orchestrating a flash mob and sponsoring a game of fiscal jeopardy between the Texas Economic Association, Libertarian Longhorns and College Republicans. The UT team consisted of Grace Fu, Carter Pearson, Novin Ghaffari and Hamid Poorsafar.

"The Up to Us competition proves that students can play an important role in addressing our nation's economic challenges," said President Bill Clinton. "The young people who participated in this competition brought passion, energy and creativity to solving one of our most urgent issues, and raised awareness in their own schools and communities."

Many economists believe that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 60 percent or less is a desirable fiscal goal. The U.S. public debt is 70 percent, and the Congressional Budget Office predicts that it will climb to nearly 100 percent of GDP by 2024 and more than 200 percent by 2040.

The Economics Department congratulates Grace, Carter, Novin, and Hamid for their impressive third place finish in this nationwide competition and for raising awareness of this important issue.

Students interested in participating in the campaign next year, should express interest at itsuptousut@gmail.

Article contributed by: Hamid Poorsafar, Jana Cole, with excerpts from Peter G. Peterson Foundation release by Christina Saull

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