Model UN team earns high praise at nationals

By Pauline Theeuws

Rider University’s Model U.N. team won two Position Paper Awards and was named Distinguished Delegation at the National Model United Nations 2016 Conference held from March 27-31 in New York City.

This year, the rigorous political science class, led by head delegate and senior global studies major Haley Johnston and two team leaders, senior political science major Catherine MacDuff and senior history major Joseph Ratel, represented Hungary at the week-long conference, opposing over 400 teams from around the world.

“The objective of the class is to prepare the team for the competition by honing each student’s writing and public speaking skills, as well as discussing U.N. procedures and fostering diplomacy,” Johnston said.

All students were assigned a partner to tackle specific topics and create a position paper that explained what the Hungarian delegation would want to do to solve specific problems.

“These papers provide our students with the opportunity to learn about the country’s stance on relevant topics ahead of time,” Johnston said. “One of the neat things we do to prepare the delegates is visit its mission in New York. This year, we spoke with a Hungarian ambassador in order to get a valid perspective.”

Two of the pairs, sophomore finance major Andrew Gandham and senior political science major Kaili Matthews, as well as senior political science majors Joshua Abrahante and Alejandra Montan, received the Outstanding Position Paper Awards, meaning the judges in charge of their committee found their papers to be the best among the group.

Rider Model U.N. was presented with the Distinguished Delegation Award after being scored on students’ ability to contribute in a diplomatic manner, demonstrate a thorough understanding of their delegation’s stance and overall participation. This recognition is awarded to teams in the top 20 percent of the conference.

Although the team only returned from the weeklong conference on April 1, the members have already heard positive feedback regarding their performance.

“It is a long, rigorous week, but everyone always learns a lot and enjoys bonding with the team members,” Johnston said. “Spending a week in New York with intelligent individuals from around the world is never a bad way to spend one’s time, either.”

MacDuff believes that what has made Rider’s Model U.N. a successful organization for many years is the intensity of the class overall and the tips Dr. Barbara Franz, professor of political science, gives.

“We train so hard that when we get to competition, you can just see that there is a divide,” MacDuff said. “There are some people who are there just because their schools paid for them to be there for a week. And there are teams who are like us — came to compete and came to win.”

Although the course starts in the spring, the members don’t waste time and start getting their position papers prepared for the conference over winter break.

“You dive right into it,” MacDuff said. “You become a delegate from Hungary.”

The team will be electing its new head delegate and leading members on April 7.

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