Team becomes competitive contender after conference win


The University's traveling Model United Nations (RUMUN) team returned from the McGill Model United Nations Assembly (McMUN) in Montreal with the conference's prestigious "Outstanding Delegation Award" for the school with the highest percentage of individual awards.

This is the second delegation award for the RUMUN team, after winning the first at the University of Pennsylvania in November, said Shariq Ahmad, president of the Rutgers University Association of International Relations (RUAIR).

"We have now won delegation awards at the two largest conferences in North America," said Ahmad, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. "We have more individual awards this year than almost all our previous years combined."

Within each simulation committee, there are individual delegate awards — best delegate, outstanding delegate and honorable mention, Ahmad said. At McMUN, Ahmad and Advait Shukla, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, won outstanding delegate awards and Samip Joshi, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, won a best delegate award.

"The Outstanding Delegation Award means that the ratio of how many people we [had in our team] to how many individual wins we had was the greatest of any small group," said Aafiya Mohammed, director of communications for RUAIR.

Mohammed, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said winning the award reflects the team's dedication and their ability to succeed when placed in competition with other schools like Georgetown University and Princeton University.

Participant's skills in diplomacy and debate are crucial factors for granting awards, Ahmad said.

"The most effective delegates know their topics very well, can debate them effectively, are good public speakers, skilled negotiators, quick thinkers, problem-solvers, charismatic, work well with others and can get their point across and turn their words into action," he said.

McMUN is one of the largest, most competitive Model UN conferences on the continent where many schools travel to Montreal to compete, Ahmad said.

"When we get called up for a major delegation award, there are thousands of students in that conference room watching you as you walk up to receive it, and they all know you are from Rutgers," he said. "Other colleges are really starting to consider Rutgers a formidable opponent."

The McMUN conference had about 2,000 students and over 100 participating schools, Mohammed said.

The structure and level of debate varies with each committee, Mohammed said. It took over a year for the team to prepare for the conference.

"We prepare just by holding our general meetings," he said. "Some meetings we focus on policy, some on public speaking, some are war game simulations and others are just round table discussions."

The head delegate, the president and some of the more experienced members also train everyone, including those who have no previous debating experience in Model UN, Ahmad said.

Positions are assigned based on the skills, experience and a specialty each delegate has, Ahmad said.

Before the members assign their own delegates, they try to find out other schools' delegate positions in the committees in order to create the best match and increase the team's chances of winning, he said.

"To be a member of the Model UN team, you just need to be willing to learn, not be shy and be able to prepare properly to go debate on whatever your topic will be," Ahmad said.

Abilities like speaking in class, giving presentations and being comfortable with argument translate into important skills at conferences, Mohammed said.

"Speaking skills are something I believe are not stressed enough in classes because being able to speak your way through tough situations is much easier than awkwardly sliding out of them," he said.

Debating on the Model UN circuit also fosters a skill set that is applicable and useful towards both students' academic career, RUAIR Treasurer Pavitra Badami said.

"The ability to critically analyze and innovate unique solutions to problems presented during the course of debate can naturally be applied towards critical analysis required in many [University] classes," said Badami, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

RUMUN has two Model UN conferences in April at the University of Chicago and New York University.

To join the Model UN team, students should have an interest in international affairs and a desire to learn more about them, he said.

"It certainly helps if people like to voice their opinions and keep up with current events," Ahmad said. "That is not a prerequisite and many of our members join in order to learn more about what is going on in the world."

The many relationships fostered with other students and universities from all across the world are one of the highlights of participating in Model UN, Badami said.

"The opportunity to represent [the University] on a global platform and beat schools such as United States Military Academy at Westpoint, Yale and Columbia gives Rutgers the exposure it so deserves and the opportunity to demonstrate our strengths and skills across the nation," she said.


Andrea Goyma

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