The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government sponsored a presentation by "Free the Facts," an organization that gives college students across the country a chance to reform policy in Washington D.C. Social Security is at the center of the 2017 leg of their tour.
Social Security awards retirees a check every month until death, and while it may not sound like a fresh-out-of-college student’s problem, it is. Upon entering the workforce, graduated students can expect 6.2 percent of their paycheck to go towards funding Social Security, a government program that may not be doing much for them. Social Security is not guaranteed for younger generations of workers and certainly not their children.
Free the Facts is not affiliated with a particular political group and urges all students, whether they have a background in policy or not, to join the conversation.
Policy expert Tom Church and President and Free the Facts CEO Dr. Lindsay Hayes gave a short lecture on facts surrounding Social Security. The idea that Social Security affects all students, especially recent graduates, was reiterated by Church and Hayes throughout the night. Laban Jackson, the founder of Free the Facts, was also in attendance. A large chunk of a graduate's paycheck will go towards funding Social Security, so Church and Hayes said it's crucial young college students understand where their money is going.
Free the Facts will be stopping at Smith College, the University of Massachusetts and the University of North Carolina on their next fall North American tour. At each college stop there will be an opportunity for students to compete to present in front of a member of Congress. The chosen student will present their idea on Social Security policy change for college students in Washington D.C. and will be connected to Free the Facts' network of social policy experts. Interested students also participate in a bootcamp with like-minded students from around the world for Social Security reform.
Church, Hayes and Jackson gave an overview on the history of Social Security: its birth in 1935, its expansion by President Eisenhower in the 50s and its rocky future.
Currently, there are more people retiring and less people working, meaning that Social Security will be sending out more money than it brings in. This is an issue that Church and Hayes say must be dealt with now, not in 10 years.
“Providing a better life for other people is the ethical thing to do,” said Alihan Seyrek, a seventh-semester political science major. “Retirement age shouldn’t go up, it’s an infringement on human dignity.”
Attendees took turns adjusting the Free the Facts’ online Social Security calculator by making changes to taxes, benefits, retirement age and/or cost of living to “fix” the problem.
Hayes says the purpose of their online calculator is to show there’s more than one answer to Social Security reform.
“I think it’s crazy we give the people who need the most, the least,” said Chris Oldham, a seventh-semester computer science major. “It should be the opposite of what’s happening now.”
Leah Sheltry is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.