Model U.N. grabs awards at conference

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There were no objections when Argentina representative and CSUN student Adam Selgado proposed a resolution about the regulation of weapons in outer space during a Model United Nations conference in Anaheim on Oct. 15.

In a meeting with other California students representing U.N. member countries during a mock committee meeting, he proposed that U.S., Chinese and Russian space programs should work more closely with similar programs in developing nations.

“With the nations working together in developing space technology, a sense of global security is formed,” he said. “Since everyone is working together, the weapons that go into space will be regulated closely.”

Selgado is a member of CSUN’s Model U.N. team, which left the Anaheim tournament with several awards, including the outstanding delegate honor, which went to the team’s head delegate.

“I’d say that these conferences are my favorite part of the Model U.N. course,” Selgado said. “It gives us all a chance to show off our knowledge on several U.N. issues that we learn in class. We look very professional, and I like that.”

According to Peter Kappas, faculty adviser for the Model U.N. team and professor in the Political Science Department, students run the class.

“Model U.N. provides the kind of experiences that will help (a person) in life,” he said.

There are simulations of the workings of the U.N. during the off-campus conferences that team members attend, Kappas said. A conference in New York City in the spring is the most important conference the team goes to, he said. The class sessions prepare students for the conferences.

“It’s entirely different when you’re in class and when you’re in a conference,” Selgado said. “The classes help us know our stuff. It’s a good time to ask questions during debates about certain issues like terrorism, nuclear safeguards or space weapon regulation.”

“You’re allowed to ask questions and learn about these issues during conferences, but its best you don’t,” he said. “A lot of the students from other schools know their stuff and almost never ask any questions. They act in character. The more professional you act the better chances you’ll have in winning the competition.”

The 19-student class consists of a one-hour seminar and an hour and 45 minutes of simulation and presentations every Monday at 2 p.m.

“There’s a lot less time when you’re at a conference, compared to when you’re in class,” said Marcus Afzali, a student in the Model U.N. class who won a distinguished delegate award in Anaheim, his first conference since joining. “(There’s) too much to do in so little time that there’s a lot of pressure.”

Each student was assigned positions for the class simulation. The head delegate position is shared by two individuals to ensure that at least one reliable veteran is present at all times, said Brent Burpee, head delegate of the Model U.N. class, in an e-mail interview.

“He or she helps in educating new delegates by leading debate on issues, developing good research, presentation, and writing skills in these delegates, and representing a helpful resource to both students and Kappas,” he said.

The class has proved useful, according to Burpee.

“Model U.N. has developed my skills greater than any of (my) other classes,” he said. “From planning my time and schedule, to doing proper research and making a convincing public argument, I found that challenge assisted me in preparing for my other classes.”

He said the team members write position papers, which must be concise, densely written, and properly formatted, and resolutions that must fit perfectly within historical guidelines, while developing solutions to real world problems.

Burpee has won distinguished delegate awards at all three individual conferences he has attended, as well as the outstanding delegate award at the Oct. 15 conference in Anaheim.

As a team, the students won both a distinguished delegation and position paper award at the national Model U.N. conference in New York in the spring.

According to Afzali, the next conference will be held in Las Vegas over the weekend of Nov. 18. It will be a three-day conference and more schools will compete, he said.

Mark Solleza can be reached at mark.solleza.950@csun.edu.