After four months of preparation, a weekend of practicing high-level diplomacy and several hours of writing resolutions that the entire international community could live with, a 64-student delegation from Brigham Young University returned from the United Nations international collegiate competition with top honors.
It was the second straight year the team has garnered the award at the competition that invites more than 2,000 students from 135 different universities in 25 different countries. This year, students from BYU, who represented the United Kingdom, had to fight off strong delegations from Georgetown University, Harvard and several universities from Japan to claim top honors."The competition can get real hairy at times," said Jeff Harmer, a teaching assistant for BYU's delegation who traveled to the United Nations this year. "It's a competition where students get grades depending on the resolutions they pass. Toward the end of the competition, people are really hustling and bustling to get those resolutions passed."
Each university represents a country in the international community and scores points depending on their level of involvement in resolutions passed. At the conclusion of the competition, BYU's team had gathered enough points to easily outdistance all other universities, drawing a standing ovation from all in attendance.
David Buckner, faculty adviser for BYU's program, said he felt BYU students are naturally inclined to perform well at the competition.
"BYU students respond naturally to what happens at the competition," he said. "BYU students do have a vision of what the world is like out there because several of them have been on missions and participated in the Study Abroad program. They've also been giving 21/2-minute talks since they were 12 years old, so they know how to speak eloquently in front of large groups."
Buckner also said he felt the team's time at the top may soon come to an end because of a lack of funds from both university and corporate sponsors. Most teams who attend the conference from competing universities enjoy vast corporate sponsorship. BYU students must pay between $600 to $1,000 for their trip to New York.
"It's becoming a program of the rich," Buckner said. "Students must go to doctors and lawyers and dentists to get the money to go."