Model UN ‘powerhouse’ triumphs as Lebanon

The Model UN team at the New York City conference.
The Model UN team at the New York City conference.

By Julia Ernst

This year’s Model United Nations (UN) team received two first place designations — achieving a feat the team has not seen in 41 years.

“The team was accredited with Outstanding Delegation and Outstanding Position Paper,” said Dr. Barbara Franz, an associate professor of political science and the instructor of the Model UN class. “These are basically two first places. Only a handful of schools get one of these awards annually and we got two this year.”

Zarif Islam, a junior who participated in Model UN for the second time this year and also served as one of the team leaders for this year’s group, explained why this is such an achievement for the university and the Model UN team.

“We’re going up against schools from all around the world who have a lot more experience than us,” said Islam, who quoted a participant from last year who said “Rider is known as the Model UN powerhouse.”

Susie Campbell, a senior who was the team’s head delegate this year, explained that Rider’s team placed in the top of the ranks out of 300 schools, which earned an Outstanding Position Paper designation. Out of the top 16, Rider earned Outstanding Delegation. In addition, out of the 300 schools that participated, only eight schools were awarded both Outstanding Delegation and Outstanding Position Paper.

Campbell also explained that Rider’s team beat schools from all over the world, including a school in Paris that is the number one political science school in the world.

“The 2008-2009 Model UN team has, without a doubt, done the best of any team in recent memory,” said Jonathan Chebra, a participating senior who was also a team leader. “We pulled down the top award in both award categories and placed better than internationally recognized universities.”

This year’s team, which represented Lebanon, explained the process that goes on in Model UN, which is held every spring as a 200-level class.

“It’s a group of students getting together and simulating solving world problems,” said junior Joseph Gallant.

Jonathan Padrone, a sophomore who was also on the team, described it as a type of acting.

“It’s a role-playing event,” Padrone said. “You pretend to be a delegate from a specific country.”

Model UN has been a class in Rider’s political science department since 1967, according to Franz, and is open to students in all majors from any of Rider’s various schools. Since its inception 42 years ago, Model UN has gotten more than 300 students involved.

It is the work the teams have continued to do well since then that has earned them such a high-standing reputation in the competition, this year’s team members said.

“This year, they’re doing the first-ever Global Model UN conference in Geneva, Switzerland,” Campbell said.

She added that only certain schools were eligible for this newly formed conference.

“Because of Rider’s success, we were invited to participate,” Campbell said.

Though Rider has decided not to attend, Campbell said, the fact that they were invited is a testament to the oustanding reputation of Rider’s Model UN team.

Ally Watson, a senior, explained that the nature of the class and the work that has to be done for the conference are very different from that of a regular class, but the experiences she had were unforgettable.

“It’s a really good opportunity to improve public speaking skills and work with others in a real-world environment,” Watson said. “It’s a team effort. It has to be done by all nine committees, all 18 people — we all had to stand out. The experience that you learn is invaluable.”

Islam added that the strong bond the team formed added a great deal to their ability to succeed.

“You can attribute a lot of our success to the fact that the team dynamic in this group was so great,” Islam said.

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