Returning from its 20th competition, Brigham Young University’s nationally ranked Model United Nations program brought home two outstanding delegation awards for the sixth year in a row — receiving the highest award and ranking among the top one percent of participating universities.
The National Model United Nations conference was March 30-April 3 in New York City at the United Nations and Marriott Marquis.
BYU's students, who come from more than 20 majors, represented Germany and Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) on more than 20 committees.
"It truly was a remarkable achievement for BYU," said Chase Walker, a junior majoring in sociology from Draper, Utah. "The team faced intense competition from more than 2,000 university students in committees ranging from 50 to 450 people."
Students delivered speeches on a variety of topics, wrote resolutions and reports, demonstrated diplomacy skills and worked with other students to address global concerns.
In addition to the outstanding delegation awards, individual partnerships within the BYU team received committee awards given to the General Assembly Plenary, ECOSOC Plenary, Commission on Sustainable Development, Commission on the Status of Women, Commission on Drug Policy, Unicef, UNHCR, World Food Program, NATO and the International Court of Justice.
With an increasing conference size and a team predominately comprised of first-year participants, the challenge facing BYU's team was great.
Going into the competition, the only thing on my mind was that I didn’t want to be the first BYU team not to receive the top recognition," said Thomas Nance, a senior studying Middle Eastern studies and Arabic from Sandy, Utah. "After the first few days of competition, I realized our delegates' hard work and preparation made us leaders in our committee.”
Students participated in the fall semester MUN class (IAS 351R) and applied to be on the winter semester’s program through a competitive process. Preparation for the students included raising trip funds for several months in advance, which helped to make the journey possible.
"This was a very expensive year owing to the economy, department budget cuts and the financial situation of many families," said Cassandra Lawyer, a psychology major from Del Mar, Calif., and a MUN teaching assistant. "Thankfully, several donors recognized the value of the lessons learned and provided some support, which led to the continuation of a great dynasty."
They also prepared through research, policy writing and negotiation exercises in class; and they received briefings from the Consul General of Germany in San Francisco as well as from the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN in New York.
"Indeed, thorough preparation is a key to our performance," said William Perry, an attorney and businessman from Salt Lake City and course instructor over the past seven years. "But the students had to earn these awards — as they must do every year."
In keeping with tradition, BYU students participated in a Sunday evening fireside. President Jeff Nelson of the Brooklyn New York Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted the BYU students in his home, an 1890s brownstone on a tree-lined street near Prospect Park, where he encouraged them to continue being actively engaged in the international community and seek to make a difference in the world by serving in the Church.
The closing ceremonies for the conference were held in the UN building, where students sat in the seats of the delegations they were representing.
“The conference for me was a great chance to meet a diverse group of people and to think critically about the world’s problems," said Robby Meldeau, a sociology major from Columbia, S.C. "This experience helped make me develop a global perspective in very specific ways as I worked with students from all across the world trying to understand their perspectives and interests in the policy issues."
Learn more about Model UN at mun.byu.edu.