Montana State University

MSU students win honors at national Model Arab League debate

April 25, 2012

MSU team playing Bahrain at National Model Arab League summit in Washington DC, with Sandor Hopkins (r), Forrest Cyr (c) and Shannon Collaer (l) in foreground and an excited Mark Bond (deep left) as he hears his name called as a winner in Political Affairs. Photo courtesy of Thomas Goltz.   High-Res Available

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Sixteen students from Montana State University's Model Arab League debating class represented Bahrain in a competition with 23 other universities at the national Model Arab League competition held recently in Washington, D.C.

Sandor Hopkins of Great Falls was selected as chairperson on the MAL Environmental Committee at next year's competition. Thomas Goltz, adjunct professor in the MSU Department of Political Science who has coached the MSU MAL program for the past four years, said Hopkins' position as one of eight positions on the General Secretariat dais for 2013 will make MSU a pivotal school on the national level next year.

"In my interview, the current secretariat asked me what in addition to the requisite parliamentary skills I would bring to the conference that the national Model Arab League does not already have," said Hopkins, a junior majoring in political science. "I said that I would bring a 'western' perspective that I thought was lacking at the 2012 event, which was dominated by East Coast schools."

Other MSU award-winners included:
*Kelsey Flynn, a junior political science major from Chicago, and Claire Michaels, a senior political science major from Sacramento, Calif., won honorable mentions in social affairs;

*Mark Bond, a junior from Bozeman majoring in political science and Ben Goldstein, a sophomore political science major from Conifer, Colo., won honorable mentions in political affairs;

*Michael Grimland, a junior majoring in anthropology from Columbus, and David Swedman, a senior political science major from Bozeman, won outstanding delegate as jurists defending Iraq against Kuwait in Court One of the Judicial Affairs Committee. Swedman also picked up an additional honorable mention as judge in Court Two of the Judicial Affairs Committee.

While in Washington, the MSU delegation's program included attended a reception at the residence of Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan as well as a Montana style barbeque attended by Richard Miles, the retired U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Serbia and Turkmenistan. The event was also attended by H.E. Elin Suleymanov, the current Ambassador from Azerbaijan to the U.S.

The students also played the roles of 16 U.S. senators as they participated in a diplomatic simulation held in the Senate Finance Committee room as a guest of Montana Sen. Max Baucus. The students discussed and voted on amendments to the Iran Sanction Act.

"It was completely surreal to actually sit in Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) chair and assume her role in amending legislation," Swedman said. "Between the simulation and the Capitol tour, the Finance Committee gave us the royal treatment."

"I think all 16 MSU participants will concur that D.C. was a huge success, and returned to Bozeman not only showered in glory, but exhausted to the bone," Goltz said. "We wish to thank the various sources at MSU for their financial support of making the trip possible, starting from the top--President Waded Cruzado."

Thomas Goltz,