Performances net Model UN five awards in two years


Rubinstein, left, and Ahuja, right, won an award each at the recent New York University Model United Nations Conference. Two of Baruch College’s Model United Nations members received personal awards for their skillful performance at a recent New York University Model United Nations Conference. Because of the organization’s work, its members managed to win five awards in the past two years.

Navtej Ahuja and Samuel Rubinstein’s recognition brings attention to Baruch’s Model UN, which is becoming more refined each year. The organization recently put up its own day-long simulation conference, which attracted 150 Model UN delegates from universities located in the tristate area. In comparison, the NYU conference had 400 attendees.

“It felt great competing with and even better when it came to beating Ivy League and private school students,” Rubinstein said, referencing his experience at the NYU conference. “It really puts Baruch’s name out there.”

“While it felt gratifying to win a personal award in my final conference, it’s important to look at it in the context of the team, and a way to demonstrate our ability to compete with top schools in the country,” Ahuja added.

In order to win an award, the participant had to be heavily involved in the progression of the conference, give frequent speeches, negotiate with other people in his or her committee and play his or her character well.

The NYU staff also looked at what powers the delegates used and how well they used them.

According to a “Ticker Talks” interview with Mikhail Relushchin, president of Baruch’s Model UN, “Model United Nations is an organization on campus that focuses on international relations, negotiation sills and generally building the professional skills that one needs to thrive in a career in international relations.”

Though Model UN is often portrayed on TV, there is a lot of disparity between what one sees on a show like Parks and Recreation and what actually happens during a conference.

Whereas TV shows tend to “caricature” the delegates, sometimes dressing them up, or, as it was in the case of Parks and Recreation, giving them more powers than they actually have, a Model UN conference involves actually putting oneself into a delegate’s or a character’s perspective.

The stereotype generally gets one thing right: participating in a conference involves a lot of roleplay and research prior to the conference.

In reality, there are two goals that Baruch’s Model UN focuses on: expanding the students’ knowledge on global issues and participating in conferences of various sizes.

To achieve their first goal, the organization hosts on-campus events to debate global issues so that students can hear different viewpoints on important issues. They also introduce students to the different resources available at Baurch, so that they can gain “an international perspective” to their majors.

The biggest events, of course, are the Model UN conferences.

Conferences vary in sizes, sometimes reaching 4,000 delegates from almost 100 countries, as it was in the case of the National Model United Nations conference held in March. A Model UN conference usually lasts for three-to-five days, and it follows the format of either a general assembly conference or a crisis committee.

A general assembly is what TV shows like Parks and Recreation portray. In such a conference, delegates represent a country and must attempt to solve an issue—or a set of issues—from his or her country’s point of view.

At the end of the conference, there is a multipage resolution that each participating country signs off on.

The crisis committee is where the delegates have to deal with a specific issue, whether it is the Eurozone crisis, tensions with Russia or the rise of far-right political groups in Germany. Instead of solving the issue, delegates have to react as each situation develops.

Relushchin described a situation that took place in a crisis committee on Russian-Ukrainian hostilities to explain how a crisis committee may work.

“We motioned to extend aid to Ukraine. The reaction is that when the committee who was representing the Russian cabinet heard this, they sent us a message telling us to stop, telling us that if we did not stop, they would be forced to take economic action. Next, we have to decide how we will react to that,” Relushchin said.

The crisis committee is where roleplay happens, as the participants are assigned a certain character that they have to represent. Each character gets a specific set of portfolio powers that he or she can use during a crisis committee, such as being in control of the country’s military if the character is a minister of defense. There is also the covert portfolio, which are powers that the character may not necessarily have but can reach with the connections he or she has in real life.

When it comes to the future of the organization, Relushchin hopes to make Model UN even better by expanding campus presence and improving the members’ performance on conferences.

“We always aim to try to do bigger and better year after year … We try to win more awards, we try to learn as much as possible,” Relushchin explained. “There’s a big world out there, and there are ways to talk about it; and, we have one that is very intense, that gives you a very big network of very motivated and ambitious students. That really pushes you to develop yourself as a student.”