International relations club to defend rank at Columbia University


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Photo by Courtesy of Atif Ahmad |

Rutgers University Assembly of International Relations plans to compete in large UN assemblies and small crisis committees. They will be defending their title as 16th in the nation at their first conference at Columbia University.


The members of Rutgers University Association of International Relations solve the problems of the world — or at least, they pretend to.

In every meet, each RUAIR member represents a certain country and fields every crisis thrown at them, said Phil Kehoe, president of the RUAIR.

RUAIR is an international relations organization on campus that attends conferences competing in either a mock United Nations assembly, or in an improvised role-play situation decided at the conference, said Kehoe, a School Of Environmental And Biological Sciences junior.

“The conferences are very competitive,” Kehoe said. “You have to be a good speaker and a good writer. Diplomacy and argumentative skills are very important.”

RUAIR will attend conferences at Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University this semester, said Atif Ahmad, the RUAIR treasurer.

Kehoe said the organization’s first conference of the year is at Columbia in New York City, where the group plans to defend their title as 16th in the nation.

This conference will be crisis-related, Kehoe said. Delegates sit around a table and given a situation related to international relations, and the committee has to work through the problem together.

“You are assigned a role and you assume that role to gain a better understanding of the problem through the committee,” Kehoe said. “There is a lot of diplomacy and backdoor deals. Some people get underhanded, but you gain a lot of real-world diplomacy and argumentative experience.”

Kehoe said most conferences, especially ones focused on U.N. assemblies, stay relevant to current issues using real-world situations.

Nathali Arias, the director of communications for RUAIR, said her first time winning the gavel at the 2012 Mount Holyoke College conference was extremely rewarding. The gavel is an award given to delegates who display the best negotiations skills and creativity in solving the issues.

“The level of intensity was insane,” said Arias, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “Everyone was having to work together and the situation kept changing. After each change they threw at us, it was very stressful. Being awarded the gavel, it’s a treasure.”

RUAIR takes about 10 to 20 students to each conference as a learning experience. Beforehand, new members are put through training to make sure they are prepared, Kehoe said.

“We help develop the skills of the newer members before the conferences at our general meetings and separate training sessions,” said Ahmad, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “We work on their public speaking skills, communication, writing and argumentative skills.”

Delegates are expected to do research to prepare themselves for the conferences, Kehoe said. While the exact topics of the conference may not be known, delegates are expected to be well-versed in the international arena to better their chances at the conference.

“It is really a community experience,” Ahmad said. “We win awards at every conference, and build our skills together.”

The organization holds weekly meetings in Murray Hall, room 211 on Tuesdays, where they talk about international relations, arguing for different positions about current issues, Ahmad said.

Unity makes the club special, Arias said.

“You can come to this school, and maybe most of your friends aren’t interested in politics,” she said. “So you come here and meet a diverse group of people, travel, learn to work for an embassy, and create a family. You really enjoy the global reach this university offers. I’m in love with this club.”


By Megan Morreale

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