In case you missed reading headlines about Karl Eikenberry, NU Political Union rehashed the controversy in a debate Monday night at the very Buffett Institute for Global Studies the former general was slated to direct.
The topic: “Resolved: The opposition to General Eikenberry’s appointment as Executive Director of the Buffett Institute was unwarranted.”
The debate began and ended with remarks by Medill sophomore David Gernon, who negated the resolution, along with Weinberg junior Lauren Thomas, who affirmed the resolution. The only faculty member who attended was Dr. Michal Ginsburg, who was against Eikenberry’s appointment.
“We talked about having this debate while all the news was ongoing and his [Eikenberry's] appointment was announced, but we thought that it would be in poor taste to debate the merits of a particular Northwestern employee while they were employed by the school,” said Gernon, NU Political Union co-president.
Weinberg junior Aaron Gordon moderated the open-forum debate, as several students and Dr. Ginsburg debated their views on the resolution.
“I think, as we can see, it opened the way to a larger and more important debate about America’s role in the world, the role of universities, and about the role of humanities,” Gernon said. “I think it was useful discourse, and I hope people came away with a better understanding of their views on the world.”
However, there was a bit of backlash against having a faculty member there. Thomas, who was present when faculty members came to ASG Senate to debate Eikenberry’s appointment, spoke out against Dr. Ginsburg.
“I was against inviting faculty from the beginning,” she said. “And having one faculty member supporting one side is imbalance.”
The debate began with 11 people abstaining, two people against the resolution and eight people for it. By the end of the debate, nine people were for the resolution, eight were against, and four abstained. Though Eikenberry will no longer be the executive director of the Buffett Institute, Gernon explained that it is important for Northwestern to reflect on the important decisions that are made.
“Why it’s so relevant now, partly, is the huge gift of $100 million from Roberta Buffett, which, thank you for, Roberta,” he said. “Northwestern is a University that’s getting more recognition and climbing in prestige, and these sort of decisions are what cement what it stands for. As we do get more recognition I think it’s important that Northwestern makes decisions that reflect its values.”