CSUN’s Model U. N. Team Wins Top National Awards—Again
(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., April 3, 2008) — For the second year in a row, the Cal State University, Northridge Model United Nations team took top honors—the equivalent of first place—at the national conference held recently in New York.
Assigned to represent Afghanistan and competing against nearly 300 universities primarily from the United States, the CSUN team won the "Outstanding Delegation" honor for overall performance, which included exercising leadership, active participation, collaboration and staying in the character of their country.
Northridge also took "Outstanding Position Papers" in recognition of superior pre-conference preparation.
"In the last two years, we have won the ‘Outstanding Delegation’ award and the ‘Outstanding Position Papers’ award. That’s never been done before at CSUN," said Peter Kappas, a political science lecturer and advisor to CSUN’s Model UN team. He pointed out that Northridge has participated in the Model UN competition for 30 years.
At the 2008 national conference, two CSUN students, head delegate Justin Seuthe and Jorge Guerrero, also were individually recognized as the "best single delegation" in their committee, the General Assembly Plenary, which included over 300 delegates. Kappas said. More than 3,000 students took part in the New York competition, designed to foster a greater understanding of contemporary global issues, and of the United Nations.
CSUN’s team, the 12 top students in the Model UN course taught by Kappas, also included Marguerite Sanvictores, Jennifer Jasgur, Elena Ponyaeva, Richard Wilk, Mujahidul Haque, Giovanni Batz, Justin Robertson, Sabine Freij, Karen Roseberry and Danae Busby.
In a simulation of the actual United Nations, students take on the role of diplomats representing the positions of their assigned country. To prepare, the CSUN students spent months researching basic facts and policies about Afghanistan. They studied how that country operates economically and politically, the core values and social structure as well as immediate domestic and international priorities. In addition, they determined the role of the UN with regard to the country’s interests and goals.
From the Afghan viewpoint, they tackled issues such as the use of mercenaries; combating illegal arms trade; the international ban of chemical and biological weapons; Iran’s nuclear activities; nuclear materials management; the non-proliferation treaty; battling the spread of illicit drugs including the country’s opium trade; gender equality in the Muslim republic; developing alternative energy sources; eradicating malaria; the protection and restitution of cultural property, historic monuments and archaeological sites and encouraging literacy in a nation where only half of the children—boys and girls—attend school.
"The students spend all of January writing their position papers for the conference. They are required to work during the break," Kappas said, and learn how to write "precisely and concisely.
"Some students say it is the hardest paper they have ever done," he said.
The student-delegates also master public speaking before large crowds and learn how to negotiate, build a consensus and write resolutions.
Because CSUN is a very diverse campus, some student participants may come from the country the Model UN team is representing, or they may be familiar with the region, according to Kappas, who said a member of the 2008 team speaks Arabic, a skill that proved useful.
"We have won awards at five of the past six national conferences," said Kappas, who is in his sixth year as faculty advisor. In 2007, Northridge represented Iceland when it won two first-place honors.
California State University, Northridge has 35,200 full- and part-time students and offers 62 bachelor’s and 50 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond.