CSUSB’s Model United Nations team continued its tradition of excellence at the 2016 National Model United Nations Conference in New York City March 27-31. This year’s team, won the Distinguished Delegation award and four Outstanding Paper awards. In addition, the team’s faculty adviser, Dr. Kevin Grisham, addressed the closing session of the conference in the United Nations’ General Assembly Hall in his role as the vice president of the National Collegiate Conference Association, sponsor of National Model UN conferences globally.
The New York Model UN Conference is the largest in the world, with more than 5,000 college and university students — more than half from outside the United States — participating each spring to discuss current global issues.
CSUSB, which represented the Republic of South Africa in this year’s competition, is annually one of the top programs at the conference. The Distinguished Delegation award placed the team of 21 students in the top 30 percent of the universities and colleges that participated in the national conference’s second session.
“We were also one of only a handful of universities from the Western U.S. who won any awards and also one of only five CSU campuses at this venue to win,” said Grisham.
The team earned the Outstanding Paper awards in four of the 12 committees to which it was assigned.
“This particular award is only given to less than 20 percent of those attending the conference and is awarded for the preparation the students do prior to the conference, which is reflected in a two-page summary of their assigned country’s position of particular topics,” Grisham said.
“This is a huge accomplishment for this team because only six out of the 21 team members had ever done Model UN prior to this conference,” he said. “To have this kind of success is unheard of with such a new team. It is high credit to their hard work since late last December until yesterday (March 30) as the committee sessions concluded.”
This year Grisham addressed the delegates at the closing session on March 31, which took place in the UN’s General Assembly Hall. He spoke not as a faculty adviser, but as the NCCA’s vice president.
“As I look out into this great hall, where pivotal events have occurred over and over again, and see the faces of the world before me, I am reminded of my first time in National Model United Nations, and coming to New York City in 1997,” he said. “As we drove into the city from the airport and the New York City skyline came into view, little did I know this experience would become a life-long passion, and the five days of the National Model UN Conference would change my life forever as a student and as a member of humanity. Never would I have imagined that I would be speaking to you today in this great hall at that time.”
Grisham recalled another event — the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead, five of whom were CSUSB graduates, plus the two terrorists, one of whom also was a CSUSB graduate — that prompted him to think about his experience with the Model UN.
“We have seen a lot of darkness this past year,” he said. “But instead of focusing on the dark, see the light that shines through all of this darkness. Take the knowledge and experience of this week and raise your voices. Do not be silent or be silenced. And be the light of understanding the world needs now. Be the ambassadors of peace, understanding and compassion the world deserves.”
Grisham’s closing remarks in the United Nations General Assembly Hall can be viewed online at “(Part 1) National Model UN College – Closing ceremony.” His speech begins about 39 minutes into the video.
Below is the Winning CSUSB Model United Nations Team, representing the Republic of South Africa: