Students, faculty decide What Matters Most in 2013

Students gathered to hear their peers and faculty debate at the third annual What Matters Most 2013 panel held Nov. 21 in Brittany residence hall.

The chosen topics, submitted by NYU students before the event, were separated into three categories — Politics, Culture and Entertainment, and Technology and Environment.

“As FFIRs, we meet regularly and talk about ideas,” University Hall Faculty and Fellows-in-Residence John Halpin said. “Olivia Birdsall thought up of this a couple of years ago, modeling it on a VH1 program.”

This year, each panelist chose one topic in each category to speak about for one minute before all panelists debated the topic.


“The new debate section made things more interesting,” Halpin said. “Before, speakers could speak for longer … but the debate seemed to lighten things up a little bit.”

After each debate, audience members proposed additional topics. After each category’s discussion was completed, the audience voted via live text of which topics mattered.

Students voted that “Orange is the New Black,” Kate Middleton and Prince William’s child, the no-confidence vote against NYU President John Sexton and Jennifer Lawrence were the most important subjects in the culture category.

The HIV/AIDS vaccine, 3D printing and Snapchat mattered most in the technology section.

In the politics category, gun control, the government shutdown, health care, the Boston Marathon bombing and George Zimmerman’s trial mattered most in 2013.

Panelists included Halpin, Gramercy Green residence hall FFIR Olivia Birdsall, Goddard residential college FFIR Carley Moore, SCPS senior and IRHC president Abby Ehrlich, and CAS senior and NYU Local writer Ben Miller. Philip Kain, a Gramercy FFIR, moderated the panel.

Erin Carlisle, a second-year graduate student in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, said this year’s panel was better than last year’s because of the new debate section.

“The list was definitely representative of the students, considering that the topics came from them,” Carlisle said. “This event gives students a place to voice their opinion by fostering an environment for dialogue about controversial issues among faculty and students.”


Anjana Sreedhar is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected] 



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