This weekend (March 17-19), over 220 college debaters from throughout the region and beyond will participate in the Southeast University Model Arab League at Converse College. Modeled after League of Arab States parliamentary procedure, the event is a simulation in which students write, debate and pass resolutions on issues of concern in the Arab world.
Participating colleges include Converse, Furman University, Old Dominion University, The Citadel, Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mercer University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. An opening ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Barnet Room of the Montgomery Student Center. Council sessions will begin in earnest at 9 a.m. Saturday in Carmichael Hall.
Student delegations represent League member countries, and win awards in their respective committees based upon their knowledge of their country’s positions and their argumentation, negotiation and consensus-building talents. Topics that will be addressed during the Southeast Model include the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, supporting and strengthening the Iraqi security forces, building support in the international community for the Palestinian cause, and establishing means to protect historical and religious sites in the Arab World from damage resulting from violence.
In preparation for the event, students commit to extensive hours researching the various issues and writing draft resolutions. “This is the best academic opportunity that I have been able to provide for my students,” said Dr. Joe P. Dunn, faculty advisor for the Converse delegation. “To gain this level of command of the issues of the region and one’s individual country, and to compete against the best from across the country, is an empowering activity.”
The Converse delegation has emerged as a national powerhouse in the Model League program by earning top honors at the regional and national level for 11 consecutive years, and has bested institutions including Harvard University, 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.
“Model Arab League is not just about memorizing facts and spending hours on end in the library researching obscure facts about various nations from the Middle East. Rather, this is an organization dedicated to shaping commanding, self-confident, poised, assertive women that are competitive against even Ivy league schools and universities from across the nation,” explained Mallory Beckett, a Converse senior from Easley, S.C. and a four-year member of the Converse delegation. “This program continually and successfully creates leaders and instills them with the very skills needed not only for success in committee, but for the world beyond Converse.”