He and about 120 student body presidents ¿ representing 1.8 million college students from universities nationwide ¿ participated in a conference call July 26 with President Barack Obama and members of his staff to discuss raising the debt ceiling and ending the partisan jam in Washington that has drawn a stalemate through the heart of Congress.
If an agreement on the national debt ceiling is not reached before the Aug. 2 deadline, the United States will default on its loans, a move Jianu said could be potentially devastating for college students.
¿A default right now would destroy investment in the future for the entire nation,¿ Jianu said. ¿We wouldn¿t be able to support a lot of people who receive federal financial aid; that would devastate their student careers as well as their future careers.¿
Jianu said a student-presidents¿ campaign dubbed, ¿Do we have a deal yet?¿ is a nonpartisan movement to encourage Congress to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling and avoid default.
¿We weren¿t taking sides on who¿s right or who¿s wrong, but we were just pushing to make a deal,¿ Jianu said. ¿We wrote a letter, collectively, and sent it to President Obama and his staff, and they received it very well. They were excited to see student body presidents across the nation so motivated about this because we have such a diverse pool of students.¿
Jianu said another letter was addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner and other members of Congress, but only the executive branch was willing to engage with the student-presidents.
Jianu said Obama thanked the student-presidents for their outreach and encouraged them ¿to keep on the fight¿ for an agreement on the debt ceiling while getting more students active on other national advocacy issues.
After Obama addressed the student-presidents, his staff answered four questions posed by them.
With more than 100 others on the line, Jianu said he was unable to get a word in edgewise. But at the heart of the mechanics and formality of the phone call, the gravity of who was on the other end of the receiver wasn¿t lost on him.
¿I got chills,¿ Jianu said. ¿To hear the president¿s voice come out of your telephone ¿ as soon as he said, ¿Hello,¿ I was just in my seat like, ¿Oh man.¿ My spine started tingling, it was a weird feeling. It was very cool, to say the least, [and] empowering, too.¿
Even so, throughout the duration of the call, Jianu said Obama and his staff sounded candid, a demeanor he said helped level out the conversation.
¿You definitely associate with them better when it¿s something more low-key and less formal,¿ Jianu said. ¿It didn¿t sound like [Obama] rehearsed what he said to us very many times. It seemed like it was something he was very passionate about. His staff, it kind of did sound like rhetoric, but from [Obama], it did sound a little bit more personal and meaningful.¿
¿ Chris Bashaw, ASI Inside