Letter to the Editor: Thank you, Northwestern, from the President of NUCR

Harrison Flagler

Monday evening, the Northwestern University College Republicans (NUCR) were proud to host former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at Norris University Center. Speaker Gingrich spoke on a wide array of topics, from domestic and foreign affairs, to the ongoing 2016 presidential primary race. By every quantifiable measure, the event was a success: by various counts, between 360 and 400 people were in attendance, more than any event in our institutional memory. When Speaker Gingrich made jokes, we laughed; when he delivered sharp lines, we clapped; when he said things we disagreed with, we audibly gasped. During the Q&A, so many hands went up that it would have required hours for the Speaker to answer all the inquiries.

Yes, the event was a success by all those quantifiable measures. But more importantly, the event was a success by a measure more difficult to quantify. A former professor himself, Speaker Gingrich was invited to campus on account of the high-level of discourse we knew he could bring — and he strongly delivered in that regard. Perhaps his two greatest claims to fame — the “Contract with America” in the 90s, and his campaign for the 2012 presidency — are reflective of a man with a depth of intellectual curiosity and outside-of-the-box thinking. These traits made him a perfect fit to come speak on our campus, where intellectual curiosity, openness and a never-ending drive to learn are pillars of our shared experience.

However, the focus of this letter is not Newt. Rather, it is a thank you to the Northwestern community for helping build and shape our organization, culminating in the wildly successful event held last night. The NUCR hosts weekly meetings where we discuss and debate a variety of political topics. Our members’ opinions are diverse — from social issues to economic issues to foreign policy, our members represent opinions from all across the political spectrum. When we host large speakers, the Q&A does not feel all too different from one of our meetings — it is a large-scale dialogue reflecting the diversity of our campus, stimulating us to push our intellectual bounds and think in new and creative ways. It is the very diversity of the students of Northwestern that has helped this organization grow during my time as a student and will help it continue to grow after I graduate.

And so, to the students of Northwestern, thank you. Thank you to everyone who came to our meetings and events over the years, from our low points to our highs — during the times when we were well organized, and the times when we weren’t. Thank you to the diversity of opinions that made us think and inspired us to host speakers who could effectively take the discourse of our meetings and engage such a large audience on a high level. Thank you to everyone who has ever applauded or critiqued us, helping to raise our own expectations of the positive impact we could make for the campus.    

Last night’s event had strong personal meaning for me. I write this note as a senior, who has been involved with the organization since fall of my freshman year. I have seen us grow from a small but driven group into the enormous organization with such diversity of opinion that we are today. Last night’s event with Speaker Gingrich was a culmination of the students of Northwestern driving us to do our best — and it was also another step in the growth that, with the help of the students, we will continue to experience. Without the help of everyone who will read this, this could not have happened. And so, I say once again: thank you.

Harrison Flagler
President, College Republicans
Weinberg senior