National UN conference awards four U. students
After their four-day journey to the nation's capital, the Rutgers University Association of International Relations returned with four awards.
This was the most the University ever brought home from the National Collegiate Security Conference, said Association President Harinath Amarnath.
"We did a lot better this year than we have in the past," said Director of Communications Shariq Ahmad, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. "I've always thought that the smartest kids at Rutgers are just as good as the smartest kids at any other institution."
The conference has four levels of awards: best, outstanding, honorable and verbal, from greatest to least, said Amarnath, a Rutgers College senior.
Advait Shukla, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, and Neelesh Mittal, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, were awarded verbal commendations; Samar Shah, a Rutgers College senior, was given an honorable delegation; and Amarnath was awarded an outstanding delegation.
"We were up against schools like Harvard and other ivy leagues," he said. "In my committee, I beat out U. Chicago and Harvard, and they have really smart delegates."
The conference brought nearly 500 students to Washington, D.C., where they participated in debating committees such as Indian Parliament, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Assembly on Cyber warfare, Egyptian-Israeli Joint Conference, United Nations Peace-Building Commission and others, Amarnath said.
"The competition requires us to represent various countries or personalities and debate international topics," he said.
For example, the Egyptian-Israeli Joint Crisis required one of our delegates in the Egyptian cabinet to debate what policy decisions Egypt should make following the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956, Amarnath said.
"In a more contemporary simulation, another delegate representing Jamaica debated how to reform the Peace building fund of the UN," he said.
School of Arts and Sciences senior Audi Syarief played the role of Tennessee senator John Bell in the Senate 1850 Committee.
Pretending it was the year 1850, the students considered bringing territories into the United States after the recently ended Mexican War, he said. In an attempt to compromise, the committee set up rules at the beginning of the conference that would affect later decisions.
"We got so into our roles that compromise didn't work. We wrote letters asking … to secede and so the Civil War broke out ten years early," he said.
Rutgers University Student Assembly allocated approximately $2,500 for two conferences per semester, which translates to six University representatives for each, Amarnath said. But the association fundraised to send 10 people at $120 each to the Conference.
"There are so many people who want to go to Model UN Conferences and these trips. It's horrible to say ‘no' to some talented students who deserve to go, but we can't afford to take them under our current budget," Ahmad said.
Nonetheless, the association has recently built its membership and as a result, has been able to take more promising delegates to their conferences, he said.
"A lot of the Ivy Leagues don't give Rutgers a second thought when we go to the conferences, but now they know that we are competition. We put Rutgers on the map [at these conferences]," Ahmad said. "And when we go to U. Penn in November we hope to continue that success."
Besides conferences, the association holds weekly meetings on Tuesday at 9 p.m. in room 402 of the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus, Amarnath said.
"Our mission is to improve the understanding of international relations on campus," he said. "[We] discuss contemporary issues such as whether it is genocide in Africa or debating if Mexico is a failed state."