Montana State University

MSU team wins second at Model Arab League regional competition

April 3, 2012

MSU students received multiple awards at the recent Rocky Mountain Regional Model Arab League competition. Winning students and their awards, from left, are: Shannon Collaer, honorable Mention, Palestinian affairs; John Nesbitt, outstanding delegate, joint defense; Steven Babbitt, outstanding chair, political affairs/crisis super committee; Mark Bond, honorable mention, political affairs; Forrest Cyr, outstanding delegate, Saudi Arabia, Palestinian affairs; Michael Grimland, MSU honorable mention school award; and Gabriel Lavin, honorable mention, Saudi Arabia, environmental affairs. Photo courtesy of Thomas Goltz.   High-Res Available

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A team from Montana State University placed second at the Rocky Mountain Regional Model Arab League held at the University of Utah recently.

Members of the MSU team won two of 10 outstanding delegate awards, five of 10 honorable mentions, as well as outstanding chair.

More than 70 delegates representing nine countries competed on six teams drawn from the University of Utah, U.S. Air Force Academy, Utah Valley University, Metro State College in Denver, San Bernardino State and MSU. The 19 MSU students represented four Arab League countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

"I think the other schools were rather surprised by the size and quality of the MSU delegation," said Thomas Goltz, adjunct professor in MSU's Department of Political Science and the team's coach.

The Model Arab League is a diplomatic simulation of the real-world Arab League, based on the model of the Model United Nations. Students are asked to embrace the theoretical position of one of the 22 Arab League member states. The states are further divided into five committees: Joint Defense; Political Affairs; Palestinian Affairs; Environmental Affairs; and Social Affairs. Participants are evaluated by their peers in accordance to their adherence to diverse set criteria, such as authenticity of position/argument, ability at "ParliPro," a modified version of Robert's Rules of Parliamentary Procedure, general diplomacy and language use.

"As far as educational experiences go, few have been more rewarding than participating in the MSU Model Arab League," said John Nesbitt, a sophomore majoring in political science from Belgrade who won an outstanding delegate award for his behind-the-scenes negotiating skills as Egypt in the Joint Defense Committee. "The MSU MAL class as well as the Rocky Mountain regional conference in Salt Lake provided me with a unique perspective on the real-world diversity of the Middle East that cannot be obtained in any classroom."

"I am just so proud of how far the team has come," said David Swedman, a senior from Bozeman majoring in political science and a three-year MAL veteran who intends to go into international law. Swedman was head delegate for the MSU Saudi Arabia team, and on the Political Affairs Committee.

"I remember Day One when there were individuals who couldn't point out Saudi Arabia on the map. Now, not only can those same individuals point out far-flung areas like Puntland, but can compete against the best and the brightest--and win."

Goltz said a veteran San Bernardino State topped MSU for the outstanding school prize.

An MSU team will now compete at the MAL nationals to be held April 13-15 in Washington, D.C. MSU will compete as Bahrain in an expected field of more than 300 delegates drawn from 22 colleges and universities from throughout the country.

Thomas Goltz