By Rachel Stengel
Rider’s Model UN team placed among the top eight schools out of 250 to earn both of the top two awards for the third year in a row at the National Model United Nations Conference held last week at UN Headquarters in New York.
Rider’s awards included Outstanding Position Papers and Outstanding Delegation. The team’s head delegate, junior Madiha Latif, is proud of her team’s consecutive wins.
“I’ve been on the team for all of the three times we won, and being head delegate this year and winning those awards I can’t even begin to describe how that feels,” Latif said. “I saw those awards and cried. Rider is on a roll and I know for a fact the team next year will do the same.”
The conference, held from April 17 to 21, is an international event that draws more than 250 schools. Germany, Venezuela, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates were some of the international schools that competed this year. Michigan’s Alma College, Ohio’s Wright State, Germany’s Ludwig Maximilians University Munich and Canada’s University of Ottawa were fierce competition for Rider’s team, according to Latif.
Model UN allows students to step into the shoes of UN ambassadors from countries around the globe and debate current issues. The goal is to resolve the issues that affect nations worldwide through international cooperation, according to the United Nations Association of the United States of America.
The preparation for the competition begins in the fall semester. The head delegate and team leaders assign members to committees. Each committee must write a position paper that details their representative country’s stance on the debated issues. In the spring semester, the team meets three hours a week to participate in mock simulations before the conference.
Rider represented Nigeria in nine committees, which included: General Assembly 1st, General Assembly 2nd, General Assembly 3rd, Human Rights Council, Security Council, Treaty of the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Review, African Development Bank, Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and World Intellect Property Rights. Debate topics ranged from external debt to HIV/AIDS drug patenting.
Nigeria is one of the few relatively affluent countries in Africa that has been trying to enhance the African nations while dealing with its own internal government issues. Much of the government information is vague and secretive and it provided a challenge for the team to present the country properly, said Latif.
Rider has been active in Model UN since 1968. The 18-member team is composed of students from various majors, from theater to international business. It has dedicated much of its time from December to April preparing for the event.
Latif attributes the team’s dedication and team dynamic as its key to success.
“We were a really tight-knit team and were always looking to help each other out, especially during conference,” Latif said. “It was an honor leading the team this year; they were a strong, dedicated group.”
Dr. Barbara Franz, the team’s faculty adviser, agrees that the team’s relationship was pertinent to its win.
“This is a competition that is very much based on every single member of the team,” she said. “I think we were very lucky because we had no weak links. If there’s one person who does not perform to his or her best ability, you won’t get an award. I want them to continue their good streak of success. It tends to do so much more with the cooperation among the individual members than my influence.”
Students of all majors are encouraged to participate. Information sessions will be held in fall 2011 for more details.