International Relations Club/Model UN Wins Outstanding RSO, Continues Tradition of Excellence
June 10, 2010
The 2009–10 International Relations Club/Model UN
takes a break in front of the White HouseRecently, at the fourth annual Sammies Award Ceremony, sponsored by the Center for Student Development on campus, the International Relations Club/Model UN received the Outstanding Registered Student Organization (RSO) of the year. To qualify, an RSO must show that it has “fulfilled its mission and the mission of the University of Massachusetts Amherst by participating in continual community service, advocating and promoting campus and community leadership, showing efficiency in event planning, being a service to their student constituents and overall excellence during the past school year.” Notes IRC president Matthew Duggan ’12 (history), “The IRC has excelled in all of these sectors and devoted its time to building a better community for politically engaged students here at UMass. We plan to improve each year."
Founded in 2000, the International Relations Club is dedicated to the study of international relations, foreign policy, and world affairs. Through its Model United Nations team, students travel to colleges and universities throughout North America to compete and learn about the inner workings of the United Nations and other international organizations. During these intense weekends, students must negotiate and compromise as they address numerous issues that the world faces.
The IRC has a proud tradition of excellence both at conferences and on campus. This year the Model UN team took some top honors: at the Georgetown Conference, the head delegate received the Best Delegate distinction; at Princeton University this spring, four delegates won awards, and the team came in third overall.
On campus, the IRC hosts a lecture series and works closely with the Political Science department in academic endeavors. Says Duggan, “This year Professor Amel Ahmed spoke about democratization, Professor Vincent Ferraro discussed U.S./Chinese relations, and Professor Audrey Altstadt gave a talk about political Islam in Central Asia. We welcomed organizations like Invisible Children and the Peace Corps. And ACLU lawyer Bill Newman came to discuss President Obama’s civil liberties record since taking office.”
An academically diverse group, IRC members are politically engaged. They participate in and coordinate movements, such as Lobby Day when they travelled to the Massachusetts State House to push for more funding for higher education.
Duggan says, “Our membership is very diverse. We cover the academic spectrum—political science, electrical engineering, math, economics, business, history, language and more—and many international students participate. Every Saturday at our new ‘Tea Time’ event we get together to discuss a topic in world affairs. We question each other about many different topics and learn so much from our peers. Many of us have bonded over topics like the roots of discontent in America that started the Tea Party movement and the implications of a more powerful China on the international scene. Someday these same members could be discussing these same issues over a table in the White House, Senate, or United Nations.”
For the past eight years, the IRC has hosted a high school Model UN conference, which has been consistently ranked as one of the top secondary school conferences in the nation. Every year, the conference pulls in approximately 350 high school delegates from New England, New York and New Jersey. Delegates spend a weekend in March on campus in a fully immersive simulation environment developed by the organization. Committees this year included the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Dutch East India Trading Company, as well as traditional committees such as the United Nations Security Council and the World Health Organization. Feedback from advisers indicate that it was the most successful conference yet.
In cooperation with Mount Holyoke, Smith, Amherst and Hampshire colleges, the UMass IRC team continues to host Five College Model UN, a collegiate conference now in its third year. “Fifteen competitive delegations, traveling from as far away as Florida, came to our all crisis conference this year, held on the Mount Holyoke campus, and sampled a taste of the Five Colleges,” says Duggan. “Participants were challenged to analyze, discuss, and negotiate while striving to resolve present, historic, and fictional conflicts.”
Students interested in joining the International Relations Club can email or join the IRC Facebook group. Meetings are held weekly, usually at 7pm, and anyone is welcome to attend! For questions or comments you can also contact the IRC’s publicity officer.