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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Model Arab League: Combining Diplomacy & the Middle East

Model Arab League: Combining Diplomacy & the Middle East
Printed with permission of Emily Corson

While many people have heard of Model United Nations (UN) at Colgate University, less well known is the Colgate Model Arab League (CMAL). Both groups mimic diplomatic organizations — the United Nations and the Arab League — where members act as delegates of various nations and debate as they navigate problems of international affairs. 

Though there are differences between the two, Model Arab League and Model UN both share the same basic structure, including country assignments and the aim of gaining support for resolutions. Colgate Model Arab League’s Acting Vice President and senior Bayley McDermott explained how the group works.

“[Model Arab League is] similar to Model UN in that each school will represent a country. So this year, we’re representing Saudi Arabia, which is very exciting for us,” McDermott said. “The point of [Model Arab League] is to draft and pass theoretical resolutions as to how that problem might be solved in the Middle East.”

The club travels to two conferences every year for competitions, once in the fall to Boston, M.A., at the Northeast Regional Model Arab League, and then again in the spring to Washington, D.C., at the National University Model Arab League Conference.

Members are assigned to serve on councils which focus on different areas of their countries such as defense and the environment. Members are able to help choose which council to participate in based on which is most appealing to their curiosities and interests, adding a deeper level of exploration and learning.

President of the Model Arab League club and senior Emily Corson explained how Colgate students have been able to further their major and minor studies through the club.

“One of our friends who graduated a couple years ago was an economics major, and she chose to do the economics council every time just because it was so interesting to her,” Corson said. “She was also a [Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies] major, so it was like a conjoining of both of her interests. People can choose what they want to do, which is cool.”

Members join for a variety of reasons, but many are involved with the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies department and find the League to be an engaging way to extend their learning outside of the classroom.

Sophomore and CMAL Financial Vice President Sarah Kinnard spoke on why she participates in Model Arab League.

“I’m a Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies major, so this is kind of right in my ballpark, and this is one of the only clubs on campus that is very applicable to that,” Kinnard, said. “It’s a great way to keep up to date with current affairs and what’s going on, without having to do a bunch of personal research that’s not going to apply to anything I’m doing in my classes.” 

The club welcomes both beginners and seasoned debaters alike and makes it a priority to provide training for new members. 

“We do get quite a few people that did Model UN or something similar in high school, but we also do get a lot of people that are beginners,” McDermott said. “I was a beginner and had never done Model UN or something similar, which is why I think we like to do more introductory and basic stuff at the beginning of the year to just give people some knowledge as to what’s going to happen. We want them to be as comfortable as possible.”

Outside of finding a community within Colgate, members have also found a broader one with other schools who also participate in the Model Arab League.

“We all have friends from other universities and we’ve made connections with other schools,” Corson said. “So it’s a really good community and you get to meet a lot of people and be social along with the academic and educational experience.”

The club also hosts different events related to the Middle East, which anyone, whether a member of the club or not, is welcome to attend. 

“We don’t just go to council, we have other events as well,” Corson said. “Last year we hosted the Syrian Emergency Task Force, which is a group that advocates for the survivors of the war in Syria, and they came to speak to us, which was an incredible experience. So we do a lot with just studying the Middle East in general.”

Members urge students who want to learn more about the Middle East or find a new community on campus to join the Model Arab League.

“If you’re interested in the Middle East, this is super fun to do,” Kannard said. “Even if you’re not, and you’re just looking for something new, it’s a very welcoming club. We like to advertise ourselves as a more relaxed version of Model UN. We still put in the work and have fun while we do it.”

Anyone interested in joining the Colgate Model Arab League or attending their events can find information on the club’s Instagram page, @colgate.mal.

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