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Utah college student joins others demanding debt deal

Published July 26, 2011 5:13 pm

Federal budget • Westminster student body president joins conference call with Obama.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Westminster College Student Body President Jonathon Pierce joined about 100 of his peers Tuesday for a conference call with President Barack Obama.

The subject: finding a "balanced and bold" solution to the nation's debt crisis.

Under an agreement with Obama's handlers and organizers of the "Students for a Debt Deal" coalition, Pierce wouldn't disclose details of the 30-minute exchange except to say it gave him hope that a fix is pending.

"I feel incredibly hopeful," said the 20-year-old from Taylorsville. "Even with all the political posturing, policy makers have citizens' best interests at heart. I think a deal will happen before the Aug. 2 deadline, even if it's a temporary one."

Pierce said Obama spoke for about five minutes followed by a Q&A with his advisers. Pierce wasn't among those who got to ask a question. But he said he was encouraged by the president's receptiveness and speed with which the student coalition formed.

"More than 100 student body presidents representing 2 million college students across the country pulled this together in about a week," Pierce said.

Tuesday's phone call involved student leaders from both sides of the aisle. It was preceded by a July 20 letter in which students demanded that Obama and Congressional leaders reach a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit and curb spending.

"While you may disagree over which party shoulders more blame for our current situation, one thing is certain – young people will shoulder the consequences of gridlock during a time that requires bold action," the letter states.

Students offered no concrete ideas for getting the job done other than to support the framework laid out by a bipartisan fiscal commission and the U.S. Senate's "gang of six."

The nation's youths have a lot to lose in the short term, including funding for Stafford loans and Pell grants.

But Pierce, who declined to say whether he's a Republican or Democrat, said of chief concern are long-term consequences for the country's prosperity.

"We are the ones inheriting the future. The decisions that are being made now will affect us as professionals and retirees," he said.

Jonathon Pierce is the son of Salt Lake Tribune reporter Scott D. Pierce. —

Clock is ticking

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