Team ranks 11th best delegation
To determine the top 25 Model United Nations teams across North America, BestDelegate.com, a source for high school and collegiate Model UN, unofficially ranked the University's traveling team earlier this month as the 11th strongest.
The rank puts the Rutgers University Association of International Relations (RUAIR) within the level of Georgetown University and West Point, and ahead of schools like New York University and Princeton University, which was not ranked.
While there is no official team ranking, president of RUAIR Shariq Ahmad said the team has come a long way from two years ago when it only had one or two delegates win an award a year.
"We're above some pretty elite schools and the top 10 are some of the best schools in the country, so we're in really good company," said Ahmad, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
RUAIR will be ranked higher at the end of the year because the current rankings do not take into account members' most recent results at the New York University Model UN Conference and the Five College Model UN Conference last week, where the team placed third at both, he said.
The team's rank is based on their award-winning performances at the Georgetown National Collegiate Security Conference and in two of Model UN's most competitive and largest conferences at the University of Pennsylvania and McGill University, where they won the Outstanding Small Delegation award at both conferences, according to BestDelegate.com.
Kevin Chan, one of BestDelegate.com's founders and the leader of the rankings project, said their goal was not to foster competition but to create awareness of good programs so delegates could emulate the attitudes and skills of successful teams.
"Our mission is to share information that's previously not available, so we wanted to use the awards data we've accumulated from blogging about conferences and compile it," said Chan, a University of California-Los Angeles alumnus.
He said their methodology for the ranking system uses conference size as a proxy for competition. Larger conferences mean bigger delegations, and they require delegates to procure and debate information to greater amounts of people.
"Not only are more schools attending [at larger conferences] but also some of the best schools are sending their best delegates," Chan said.
BestDelegate.com ranks the top four conferences in the World Division, in increasing order, as the McGill Model UN Assembly (McMUN), University of Pennsylvania Model UN Conference (UPMUNC), Harvard World Model UN (WorldMUN) and Harvard National Model UN (HNMUN), he said.
Anant Shukla, the Secretary-General of the UPMUNC, said UPMUNC is the most competitive conference on the Model UN circuit in the fall because all the heavyweights like Harvard University, Yale University and Georgetown University compete.
"Georgetown does not compete at Harvard [HNMUN] which is important because the only time that most of these schools do go head-to-head is at UPMUNC in the fall," said Shukla, a University of Pennsylvania junior.
Dominik Nieszporowski, secretary-general of HNMUN, said HNMUN is the oldest simulation of its kind and attracts more than 3,000 participants from both national and international colleges.
"I believe the single most important reason our conference maintains its status on the Model UN circuit is the quality of our delegates," Nieszporowski, a Harvard University senior, said via email correspondence.
Chan said BestDelegate.com compiled the rankings based on a conference's awards information — like which teams won, the number of delegation awards, the number of awards for each conference — and tried to find as many conferences as they could.
Since Model UN is student-run, generally students chairing the simulation UN committees decide which delegates receive awards at conferences, Shukla said.
"We anticipated that certain conferences would be weighted more because they publish more awards data, so we have more to work with," Chan said.
Ahmad said he does not believe it is fair to heavily weigh HNMUN in the ranking methodology because there are many schools that cannot afford to attend or have packed schedules like RUAIR.
"If we had gone and done well at Harvard, we would've ranked better," Ahmad said. "[But] it's the first time they've ever done a ranking [and] they've done a pretty good job."
The Best Delegate team is working on changes and will update public rankings periodically, as well as get better awards data for other conferences, Chan said.
But Ahmad said despite some other schools having advantages over RUAIR in terms of being financially supportive or having specialized academic focuses for Model UN, RUAIR has done well.
"What [RUAIR] does without those resources is amazing, in my opinion," he said. "While we might not have the same access to funding or the same academic programs, the best and brightest at Rutgers can hang in there with the best and brightest anywhere in the world."
Ahmad said he credits RUAIR's ability to attend an unprecedented seven Model UN conferences this past year to the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA).
"Rutgers has never been to seven conferences in a year before and the two schools that have been to the most conferences were West Point and UPenn, who have attended nine," he said.
Shukla said RUAIR have done well in the past and hopes they do well again this year in December at their UPMUNC conference.
"Whatever they're doing must be working for them," Shukla said.
Ahmad said while award recognition is satisfying, his involvement with Model UN is not to win awards but to create better leaders.
"When my delegates saw those rankings, they were excited because Rutgers was recognized," he said. "And they know that they have that potential to be better and it just drives us even more."