RUAIR gives students unique opportunities to engage with foreign affairs
Rutgers’ Association of International Relations (RUAIR) gives students the tools necessary to debate in an international affairs setting.
Students in the organization practice public speaking, debating and creating as well as understanding policy. Some members compete in Model United Nations (MUN) conferences, which allow them to build upon the aforementioned skills and become more comfortable in a political environment.
“We believe actively participating in events is the best way for students to learn which is why we compete in Model UN conferences, hold weekly meetings and practices and hopefully get to run conferences in the future,” said Gabriel Borger, RUAIR’s director of operations and School of Arts and Sciences junior.
RUAIR travels across the country to attend Model UN conferences, visit UN missions, and hold workshops, he said.
The group is currently ranked 26th among Model UN teams across the globe and has won a number of awards both individually and as a team, Borger said.
“As far as prestige goes, we're definitely known on the collegiate MUN circuit as a quality team. Many of our alumni go on to work in government or other highly regarded sectors,” he said. “I believe we've recently had one at the white house and another at the department of defense.”
RUAIR holds tryouts for its travel MUN team twice a semester, but students who show genuine interest and participate often can still make the team even if they do excel at tryouts, Borger said.
“The best part is you don't need any experience at all to do any of these, we teach you what you need to know,” he said.
The club hopes to expand their reach to high school and even middle school students in the coming years by hosting conferences for them, Borger said.
“We also hope to compete in more exotic conferences such as World MUN, a conference held in a different part of the world every year. We've been in touch with Rutgers Newark and have been helping them set up their program and hope to work with them in the future too,” he said.
Sandeep Patankar, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and RUAIR’s director of communications, said the organization is in its 27th year and that he is optimistic about its future.
“What makes us an important student organization is primarily that we focus a lot on learning about international affairs from the economic, social and religious perspectives,” he said. “It is really important for anybody who wants to go into journalism, diplomacy or potentially business.”
The organization has weekly meetings and practice sessions. They normally begin with presentations followed by discussion segments which allow each member the opportunity to speak, Patankar said.
Devin Mulloy, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and Treasurer of RUAIR, said that he has learned most of what he knows about international relations from joining the club.
Mulloy said that Rutgers Model UN has been a major part of his life here at the University.
“I have become a lot more involved in learning about what’s happening in the rest of the world. It’s made me more of a global citizen,” Mulloy said.
The club’s biggest improvement has been the way they have progressed in competitions, he said. They have won many more awards since he first joined.
“It’s always about how to make a passionate speech, how to make sure people are listening to you … how to structure your ideas well,” Mulloy said.
Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is a correspondent with The Daily Targum.