I’ve had a lot of folks tell me they wouldn’t ever want to have a Twitter account. They’re not sure why they’d want to read about what people had for lunch or what celebrity couple broke up. But if the uprisings that swept Arab countries earlier this year have taught us anything, it’s that social media allows organizers to spread the word faster than Paul Revere could on his horse.
It was through Twitter that William and Mary senior Kaveh Sadeghian first heard about “Do We Have a Deal Yet?,” a student-led initiative to push lawmakers to compromise on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Three Georgetown University students were frustrated by the disagreements between political parties that could potentially cause the United States to default on its loans on Aug. 2. Almost two weeks ago, they decided to call on their fellow student leaders, most of them student body presidents, to band together and call for Congress to compromise.
Sadeghian, who is in Washington, D.C. for the summer working with the National Conference on Citizenship, was intrigued and decided to get involved. The students met at Georgetown on July 20 to draft a press release that would remind lawmakers that “it’s not about the next election; it’s about the next generation,” Sadeghian said.
Sadeghian is both eloquent and energetic, two qualities that prompted the fellow students to choose him to be interviewed on CNN directly before the 1 p.m. press conference on July 21 at the National Press Club. At that point, he had been involved in the initiative for a couple days. He practiced his talking points over and over on his way to the CNN studio in D.C., and sat in hair and make-up – “That was an experience!” – before explaining to anchor Fredricka Whitfield that millenials are concerned that lawmakers are “kicking the can down the road.” (Watch his appearance here).
Recent graduates and current college students are worried that the continued gridlock and strife will result in temporary fixes that won’t ensure the best future for them when they enter the workplace. Sadeghian said he doesn’t even want to consider what will happen if lawmakers don’t come to an agreement and default on the country’s loans. “We’re asking for a deal to be three things – balanced, bold and bipartisan,” he told me Wednesday.
The student effort is nonpartisan, and the group has not aligned itself with any of the plans floated by Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or the Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of senators that includes Virginia Democrat Mark Warner. Their message, Sadeghian said, is simply “asking leaders to lead.”
He’s been stunned by the response so far. The press conference succeeded in getting the attention of lawmakers like Sen. Mark Warner, who mentioned the Do We Have a Deal Yet campaign on Twitter and on his web site. But nothing compared to capturing the attention of President Barack Obama. When I reached Sadeghian by phone on Tuesday, he was riding the adrenaline high of having just been on a conference call with the White House, during which Obama got on to encourage the students and thank them for speaking up. “I think this is probably one of the best mobilizations of student government,” Sadeghian said. “We all get along phenomenally and it was appealing in that it wasn’t pushing one political agenda.”
I was struck by how the students, in less than a week, were able organize a movement through social media in a matter of hours. Further, they were able to set any personal biases aside and craft a coherent message to leaders. Sadeghian said no one even discussed their party affiliations or what plan they supported. “We were demonstrating what we’re advocating,” he said.
You can see the press conference and read the statement here.
CW Hosts 4-H Day This Weekend
4-H Club members can buy discounted tickets to Colonial Williamsburg on Saturday for $5.50.
The special ticket includes unlimited access to the Historic Area; entrance to the DeWitt Wallace Museum, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and Bassett Hall; the opportunity to play RevQuest, an interactive alternate reality game and more.
The special tickets can be purchased at the Robert and Marion Wilson Group Arrivals Building at 107 Visitor Center Drive.
School Supply Tax Holiday Starts Aug. 5
Virginians will have a break from paying sales tax on some school supplies and clothing items from Aug.5 to 7 during the state’s sixth-annual sales tax holiday.
Families can save on supplies such as notebooks, pens, binders, calculators, paints and more as long as each item costs $20 or less. Most clothing items and footwear will be exempt from the 5 percent sales tax as long as they cost $100 or less for each item. There is no limit on the number of items that can be purchased without tax as long as each item qualifies.
Lists of eligible items can be found here.