On Friday, Feb. 21, the UT Economics Club held the Up To UTK’s “Fort Box” event where UT students came together at Pedestrian Mall to construct a Power T-shaped box fort, representing the rising national debt and how it will affect our generation in the future.
Kayla McMurry, a senior Economics major and club leader, said the Economics Club’s main goal is “to raise awareness about fiscal sustainability and environmental sustainability” when it comes to the increasing national debt.
Ken Baker, a senior economics lecturer and club adviser, added that the club is trying to make the student body aware of the situation of the national debt, which represents the total amount of money that the U.S. has borrowed.
“It’s your generation that’s going to bare the front of this,” said Baker. “You’re going to get less from the government than I did, and you’re going to pay more than I did.”
The idea for the box fort began when the Economics Club discovered the Up To Us campaign, a national campaign seeking to raise awareness about the national debt.
“The box forts have been done all over the country,” said McMurry. “The largest box fort was over 4,000 boxes, and it was at University of Texas at Austin, and we’re really trying to beat that right now.”
According to Carly Frensley, a junior Economics major in International Business collateral and the creative director for the Up To UTK campaign, UT had to apply to be able to run the campaign because only twenty-five universities that applied would be entered.
“[The Economics Club] has been getting more involved in national competitions,” said Benjamin Compton, lecturer in the economics department, “and so they were searching for something else to do that would involve not just students of economics, but students across the university.”
The box fort is constructed using over 5,000 cardboard boxes, representing the total amount of national debt: $17 trillion.
“If you think about $17 trillion divided by 5,000 [boxes], comes out to about $3.5 billion worth of debt,” said Baker. “If we were to pay off $3.5 billion, we would still have 4,999 boxes to go.”
“I’ve been impressed with the student’s efforts,” Compton said. “Whether we win or not, I think that we’ve done something that’s impacted at least a certain portion of the students.”
Edited by Nichole Stevens