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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Social Security a student issue, group says”

    Ryan Ellison, right, a business management sophomore, hands over a slice of pizza to Kimberly Avila, an accounting sophomore. Members of Students for Saving Social Security were giving out free pizza yesterday on the UA Mall for the Take A Slice campaign, speaking to students about the future of social security.
    Ryan Ellison, right, a business management sophomore, hands over a slice of pizza to Kimberly Avila, an accounting sophomore. Members of Students for Saving Social Security were giving out free pizza yesterday on the UA Mall for the ‘Take A Slice’ campaign, speaking to students about the future of social security.

    Students for Saving Social Security were on the UA Mall Wednesday and yesterday handing out free pizza to students walking by.

    The catch? Each slice represented the group’s belief that “”the government is taking more than a slice of our paychecks,”” said Director Jo Jensen, 22, a political science graduate of Mount Holyoke College.

    “”We give everyone a slice of pizza and ask them to sign a petition saying (Social Security) is an important issue and Congress should stop raiding the trust fund and spending our Social Security money on other things,”” she said.

    About 350 people signed the petition while the group was on the mall, said Evan Dent, director of corporate outreach.

    Two students created the group in 2005, and today it includes more than 10,000 students nationwide. Current members have traveled across the country over the past year to visit more than 300 college campuses and call attention to the effects of government spending on Social Security.

    The group purchased more than 40 pizzas for the UA, Jensen said, adding that all expenses are paid for with grants and money donated by private citizens.

    The group has student representatives at colleges in all 50 states. At the UA, it’s affiliated with the Arizona Federation of College Republicans.

    The group first came to campus in Spring 2006 handing out flyers, said Michael Sistak, a political science senior and state co-chairman of the College Republicans.

    Students across the country should be concerned about the issues of Social Security, he said.

    “”Social Security is important to our generation because we are the ones affected by the coming crisis,”” he said.

    Though the group is affiliated with the College Republicans at the UA, Social Security should not be a partisan issue, Jensen said.

    “”We need to get through the partisan rhetoric and get to the issue,”” Jensen said.

    Echoing that sentiment, the group has followed the U.S. presidential candidates across the country during primary season in the “”Ostrich Mobile,”” a 1991 Chevrolet Suburban that has traveled more than 165,000 miles since this summer.

    Ostriches have become the group’s unofficial mascot. Members don ostrich suits donated to the club to illustrate the concept of Congress getting their “”heads out of the sand”” and starting to fix Social Security issues.

    “”Social Security is kind of a hard topic to talk to talk with someone about,”” Dent said. “”But when you have an ostrich, it’s an easy conversation starter.””

    In October, Dent walked 150 miles over eight days in an ostrich suit across the entire state of New Hampshire.

    In addition to wearing the ostrich suit in every state traveled, Dent spent a week decorating the “”Ostrich Mobile,”” which she drives an average of 10 to 12 hours daily.

    “”I wouldn’t be able to do all of this if I wasn’t so passionate about it,”” Dent said.

    While on college visits, Jensen said she usually encounters two kinds of students: those who say they aren’t depending on Social Security, because they know they won’t be getting any money, and those who don’t really understand where the money taken out of their paychecks goes.

    Jensen encourages all students to write and petition their representatives in Congress about Social Security.

    “”All the solutions that Congress is coming up with affect us the most,”” Jensen said. “”Every day that we don’t fix Social Security, the problem gets worse.””

    James Edmunds, an English sophomore, stopped by the table to sign the petition yesterday without taking a slice of pizza.

    “”I don’t know a lot about social security right now,”” Edmunds said, “”but I want to know how it will affect me and what will happen in the future. I also want to know where the funds are going right now.””

    The group heads for New York University today before going to Massachusetts for the rest of the week.

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