Converse College continued to build upon its reputation as a national powerhouse for debate at the 2005 National Model Arab League Conference in Washington, DC March 30-April 2.
Competing against 22 other colleges and universities such as the University of California Berkley, Ohio State University, Northeastern University, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Brigham Young University, Converse won the outstanding delegation award in five of the seven committees, and was selected as the outstanding delegation for the overall model. Converse has won an outstanding delegation honor for ten consecutive years, but the 2005 conference represented its most decisive victory ever at the national competition.
The debate competition, which is modeled after League of Arab States parliamentary procedure, is a simulation in which students write, debate and pass resolutions on issues of concern in the Arab world. Students win awards in their respective committees based upon their knowledge of their country’s positions and their argumentation, negotiation and consensus-building talents.
According to Shawn Romer, coordinator for the national conference, the key to Converse’s success is most likely their dedication. “The Converse delegation takes debating very seriously, and they are extremely good at it,” he said. “Dr. Joe Dunn (the delegation’s faculty advisor) does an excellent job of recruiting the best members available to the delegation. While I was a student at Miami University in Ohio, I competed against Converse students in the national conference, so I know from first-hand experience how good they are.”
Converse’s outstanding delegation teams in their respective committees were: Bethany Nichols of Belleville, N.J. and Nora Nassri of Orangeburg, S.C. for Palestinian Affairs; Mallory Beckett of Easley, S.C. and Lucy Johnson of Hollandale, Miss. for Social Affairs; Courtney Clark of Spartanburg, S.C. and Nicole Poteat of Inman, S.C. for Environmental Affairs); Tina Rohner of Kaufbeuren, Germany and Mehal Woldetsadik of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for Economic Affairs; and Kelsey Nichols of Matthews, N.C. and Danielle Peregoy of Aiken, S.C. for Arab Heads of State.
Elections for leadership positions for the 2006 conference were also held, and Converse students were named to four of the eight available chairs through a competitive application and interview process. Elizabeth Mayes of Mayesville, S.C. will chair the Economic Affairs Committee; Beckett will chair the Social Affairs Committee; Kate McCormick of Henderson, Ky. will chair the Environmental Affairs Committee, and Holly Jordan of Ridgeley, W.Va. will serve as Chief Justice of the Arab Court of Justice.
The latest success with Model Arab League comes on the heels of a dominating performance at Model NATO in February, the college’s first participation in the conference in which they were named outstanding delegation and were asked to run the 2006 national conference. “The Converse delegation performed brilliantly,” said Dr. Michael C. Nwanze of Howard University, and coordinator of the Model NATO conference. “Perhaps their strongest talent is being so well versed in the importance of procedure, which is something that many college delegations have yet to fully grasp. The Converse students are also unusually strong in the strength of their preparation; they know the issues inside and out, and know how to get their point across.”