Concordia breaks into the top 20 Model UN delegations for the first time
The CED ranked 19th among North American Model UN teams, a massive achievement, which puts them in the company of other elite universities such as Harvard, Yale, UCLA and McGill. For the CED, it is their highest ranking ever in the North American division, and first time breaking into the top 20. In the past two years, Concordia has finished in the top 25.
“So, it’s really like finally saying ‘okay Concordia as a delegation is on the map.”’ said Jonah Guez, a Concordia graduate and former CED president.
“It’s finally like the efforts have finally come to fruition, and people within Concordia absolutely believe in the fact that they can win now.”
The North American College Model UN rankings are based on how delegations perform at various conferences throughout the year, as well as how many awards their delegates and overall delegations receive. The higher the amount of conferences they attend, the more awards they can take home. The conferences are held across North America.
One of the toughest conferences is held at Harvard University, where Concordia student and current president of the CED Alexi Dubois placed third in his committee.
In Model UN competitions, competitors are referred to as delegates who take on the role of representing different countries in a mock UN General Assembly, UN Security Council or other UN bodies, to smaller competitions where the delegates act and debate as characters in a scenario, like a historical event or a board of directions. They take on the perspective of these countries and debate how to tackle global issues like climate change, trade, and other global affairs, or in presenting and debating their characters’ point of view in a smaller event. These committees like the UN General Assembly are often very large with up to 100 delegates involved.
“So, it can go anywhere from 193 countries, and a large room representing the United Nations General Assembly, to honestly 15 people talking about the October Crisis as their own characters — it’s a huge range of topics, but there’s a little bit of something for everyone,” said Dubois.
Dubois specializes in smaller committees, where delegates may portray the board members of a major company or different characters during historical events. At Harvard, he was a part of a historical committee, with the topic being that of the October Crisis in Quebec.
Dubois was tasked with portraying a feminist separatist journalist during the October Crisis, and his performance earned him third place in the committee, a major personal achievement for him.
“I’d gone to Harvard the year before in-person, and I’d come up short. I hadn’t won anything, but I kind of left feeling like ‘Oh, these are the differences I need to make to my performance to be able to do better,’” Dubois explained.
“It felt really amazing to hear your name called out at probably the toughest Model UN conference you can go to […] there’s a lot of work and preparation that goes in beforehand, and to actually then be able to translate all your research and all your work into a performance that’s recognized is a really great feeling.”
Model UN is built around public speaking, and interpersonal social skills. To win awards, it’s not always about who speaks the loudest, but who can get the most people on their side.
“Public speaking is something we know we can help you with. We know that even with a bit of nervousness, we can coach you through it and make you a really great public speaker. The best skill you can have to try out for the team that we’re looking for is really just those interpersonal skills and being able to have people listen to you,” Dubois said.
The CED’s best year ever comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Model UN circuit thrives on in-person conferences and collaboration between universities, and was therefore greatly affected by the pandemic. Conferences took place almost entirely online, which made it difficult to get new students involved in the program.
There is still a lot of uncertainty moving forward for the CED regarding travel, and which conferences may be held in person or online, but it isn’t slowing Dubois or his team down.
“Our goal this year is to attend as many conferences as possible, and [focus] on what’s called delegation awards. So we’ve really tried to create a strategy which focuses on not necessarily individual awards but team awards,” Dubois explained. The teams that win the most awards in a conference win delegation awards.
“Those delegation awards really make the largest difference to climb up in the rankings. So if we’re around 19th at the moment, and if we want to crack the top 15, which would be a dream, it would be fantastic. We really need to start working on getting more delegation awards.”
One thing that makes the CED different and possibly so successful for the time they’ve existed is the culture around teamwork that they have developed.
“Chicago and Georgetown universities, who have huge Model UN programs, and they’re actually extremely competitive within themselves. So not only do you compete against other people at conferences, you actually first compete against people from your own school to be able to go to a conference, and that’s not really the way we approach things. At Concordia, we hold a tryout in October, and we have 30 to 40 people who make the team. From that point on, it’s everyone trying to help each other together,” described Dubois.
The CED will be hosting training sessions for new and interested students beginning Sept. 22 leading up to their in-house tryouts in October.
Photos by Catherine Reynolds