Model UN team succeeds at national conference

The university’s Model United Nations team took on a challenge this year and succeeded.

This April, 21 students represented Iran at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York and received “Outstanding Delegation,” Director of Model UN Eric Cox said.

He said the award was for the top 10 of 193 countries at the conference and was the sixth overall award in a row for the university.

University students served on 10 different committees at the conference, negotiated problems and tried to pass resolutions based on what best benefited Iran, Cox said.

Senior marketing major Leah Richardson said she was impressed with the group and with the countries they chose.

“I think Iran is probably one of the hardest countries we’ve ever represented,” Richardson said.

Richardson attended the New York conference for the third time, she said. Previously, the university represented the Netherlands and Brazil.

While representing Iran, it was more difficult to solve problems. The Iranian representatives had to be diplomatic without the help of many allies, Richardson said.

Senior strategic communication major Kaitlyn Van Gorkom, a head delegate, said Iran addressed global issues in its own way but that the committee needed a solution everyone could agree on.

Before the committees convened, the team met with UN diplomats from Iran to make sure it knew what the diplomats thought about issues, Van Gorkom said. It was easier to ask informed questions because the team members conducted a substantial amount of research.

On the last day of the conference, students met in the general assembly hall of the United Nations rather than the conference’s host hotel. Junior international politics and international economics double major Lauren Kiser gave a speech there, Cox said.

Van Gorkom said the best part about Model UN was learning a new perspective and representing a country with ideas different from one’s own.

She said Model UN embodied the university’s mission statement — students learned about a global perspective and how to view issues differently.

Cox said students applied in the spring to join Model UN and took a class in the fall and spring semesters to prepare for the New York conference.

He said students in the classes researched how to best represent Iran’s stances by looking at statements from Iranian government officials and how Iran voted on recent resolutions.

Research and writing skills, knowledge of the UN, diplomacy and negotiation were all things students took away from the conferences and preparation, Cox said.

Two Model UN conferences meet in New York every spring, and about 5,200 students attend.