Alumni Group In New Movie

Concerned Youth of America (CYA), an organization created last year by several members of Phillips Academy’s class of 2007, was recently featured in a film on fiscal responsibility. CYA is dedicated to raising student awareness of the alarmingly large national debt, which will soon become the responsibility of the nation’s younger generation. The founders of this group include Yoni Gruskin ’07, Sarah Guo ’07, Prateek Kumar ’07, Mike Tully ’07, John Gwin ’07 and Martin Serna ’07. The film, titled I.O.U.S.A., premiered this Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in an effort to expose the issue on a public level. The documentary attempts to educate viewers on many of the same issues CYA has been trying to promote, chiefly America’s lack of understanding of the ever-growing national debt. According to Gruskin, CYA’s Executive Director, the organization was contacted earlier this fall by the producers of I.O.U.S.A. through the Phillips Academy Communications Department, asking if CYA would be willing to take part in the making of the documentary. A few months later, the producers flew a film crew to Philadelphia to film for a weekend on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Many members of the original CYA group traveled to UPenn to participate and to be interviewed extensively by the associate producers of the documentary. Gruskin, Guo and Tully all attend Penn. CYA also hosted an event on campus that invited representatives from the Concord Coalition, which defines itself as “a nationwide, grass oots organization advocating generationally responsible fiscal policy.” The next day, Gruskin and several other UPenn students held a demonstration on a campus pathway. Gruskin said that the students dressed as “prisoners to the national debt” in jail outfits to demonstrate the eventual effects of the federal debt if no action is taken. Patrick Creadon, Director of I.O.U.S.A., said, “America’s federal debt is $8.6 trillion and growing at a frightening rate. In addition, our major entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – are dangerously unfunded. As a country, we are slowly spending ourselves to death.” The film focuses on David Walker, the U.S. comptroller general, who serves as the accountant for the United States federal government and is among the leading authorities on these fiscal issues. The movie documents how little the average American knows about the federal debt. Most of the people interviewed did not even know what the federal debt meant, and if they did, almost no one actually knew how much it was. Though none of the CYA board members have seen the finished film, if I.O.U.S.A. is endorsed after the Sundance Film Festival, it will be screened across the country and perhaps made into a D VD. According to Gruskin, CYA is currently in a transition stage. The group has recently finished their website and is now hoping to have several different chapters on other college campuses. The group also hopes to form a board of advisors consisting of prominent scholars who are currently involved in the issue of the U.S. federal debt.