Students eat ‘100 grand’ for U.S. national debt awareness


Sarahy Lopez

“Two biology students, Morelia Diaz and Noor Sadaqa who attended the chocolate eating contest.”

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

A 300-level economics class organized a chocolate eating contest in the cafeteria on Feb. 22 to bring awareness to the $20 trillion national debt of the U.S. The class is part of a movement called “My100Grand” that started at NEIU. “It’s not just national debt, it’s your debt,” reads their slogan.

The campaign was named after the amount each citizen would have to pay out of pocket to absolve the U.S. of its debt.

“My100Grand” is partnered with the non-partisan initiative Up to Us—a national campaign which aims to engage and inform students about the U.S. debt and the impact it can have on jobs, families and the future of young generations.

Dr. Christina Ciecierski, who teaches the 300-level class “Non-Profit Management, Admin, and Communications,” said that the “My100Grand” movement was part of her course which focuses on writing, presenting and speaking on behalf of non-profit organizations. She encouraged her students to reach out to the community and use social media marketing strategies to promote “My100Grand.”

The class set up a booth in Student Union and walked around campus, collecting pledges and informing students on the national debt. They also created an informative video on the national debt and posted it on the “My100Grand” Facebook page, including facts such as the U.S. national debt is “your college tuition 333 million times, your student loan debt 800 million times.”

“The reason why this campaign is targeting students is that we are motivated to work on our futures and we’re energetic about what we want,” said senior student and campaign leader Saira Khan, who is also a current student in Ciecierski’s class.

Khan continued, “The debt is like a taboo. Not a lot of people talk about it or know much about it. They assume that the government will handle this national debt, but this is a huge problem within our society that is affecting the future and the generations coming.

“If each person within the U.S. were to put down $100,000, we could get rid of national debt. Now, are we ready to put down $100 grand? Obviously not, and that’s how bad it is,” said Khan.

The chocolate eating contest was another event the class organized in hopes of going viral on social media and catching the attention of onlookers in the cafeteria. The contest awarded $50 in cash prize to whoever broke the record of eating 100 Nestle chocolates in 100 seconds.

Participating contestants were provided with multiple chocolates and water as a volunteer kept time, while Khan and other volunteers announced more facts about the national debt over a mic.

First-prize winner David Calderon said that while the contest was exciting and fun, he was in shock and disbelief of how much the U.S. was in debt.

The economics class is also a part of a sixth-annual nationwide campus competition with Up to Us.

“Oct. 1 marked the start of the new fiscal year for the U.S. government at a time when our country’s debt has surpassed $20 trillion and depression economic issues are trending,” the Up to Us website reads. The winners of the competition will win a free trip to Washington.

Ciecierski said that My100Grand brought her class closer together.

“This is my first time teaching this class and it’s really hard to get so many people to work together as a team,” she said.

Ciecierski said they had issues organizing and doing last minute touches, but that they “got through it” and that “it is truly amazing” to see the team’s efforts come to fruition.

Khan said she was proud of her fellow classmates and all the work they have placed into the campaign.

The final event will occur on March 3 in Alumni Hall from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. It will be a trivia night hosted by “My100Grand” and winners will be receiving prizes as well.