Four Oswego students had an excellent showing in their first-ever appearance at the SUNY Model European Union gathering recently, winning an award for Outstanding Agenda Item with sophomore journalism major Aidan Trusz honored as Most Effective Finance Minister.

Bradley Wiggins served as the lead organizer for the SUNY Oswego student delegation, which in addition to Trusz included Joshua Fahey and Marie Park. More than 100 students from SUNY and non-SUNY schools came together in Manhattan on March 30 and April 1 to simulate a meeting of the European Council with an ambitious agenda.

In the competition, the Oswego team represented the country of Romania, which required a lot of research to fully understand the country and what issues and agenda items it might bring to the table.

Preparation was key, as Oswego’s students “researched expanding Romania's natural gas infrastructure and built a policy proposal to obtain funding from the EU,” which won the award, Wiggins said. “This not only would help Romania get a stream of income to help out its citizens and nation, but it would also help nations rely less on Russia's natural gas in our current Russia- Ukraine war, providing benefits in further sanctioning Russia.”

“Going into the SUNYMEU, we knew it wasn't going to be easy for us,” Trusz said. “SUNYMEU has been held for decades now, with schools that have been attending it since its founding. This was SUNY Oswego's first year sending students to it.”

Despite that, the team benefited from the guidance of faculty members like Lisa Glidden, a political science professor and director of the global and international studies program, who offered “huge help and support in preparing our delegation for the conference,” Wiggins noted. “Without her support, the conference wouldn't have been possible.”

Their trip was supported by a student travel grant, the Political Science Department, the global and international studies program and the Political Science Club.  

Hands-on preparation

A junior double majoring in political science and in global and international studies, Wiggins explained that “our delegation took a very hands-on approach and did most of the preparation for the conference,” drawing from courses in political science and global studies.

“Understanding international relations is complex and through global politics classes, we were prepared with knowledge, but needed to learn quickly to adjust how to formally write policies in our respective councils,” Wiggins said, adding that he and Farley took a “European Politics” class, “which helped us a ton in understanding specific issues and procedures in the EU.”

“I had to take a massive dive into learning about Romania -- its history, its culture, its economic functions, how it has previously acted and voted at EU meetings, the political leanings of each of its leaders and politicians,” Trusz recalled. “While I did homework, I had Romania documentaries on in the background. While I ate, I read about Romanian foods. There was a lot to cover.”

While the team prepared together, during the conference they had to successfully navigate as individual members with students from other colleges in similar roles.

As our group’s finance minister, I was put in a room with all the other finance ministers, and we debated on the finance agenda proposal,” Trusz explained. “Representing Romania was really interesting, because it's a country with some strict and unpopular positions,” which are often related to its need for economic development and alliances as one of the poorer nations in Europe.

Trusz’s individual award reflected his preparation and dedication to the role.

“For my leading role in the financial conference, my desire to stay as true to Romania as possible, and my willingness to debate everything that stood against Romania's interests, I was voted the Most Effective Finance Minister of the conference's finance section,” Trusz said. “It is an awesome award, especially for a non-politics major from a school in its first year at the conference. The other members of the conference were super supportive and congratulatory, the voting was done by the other members, so it was a really gracious award.”

Wiggins said the conference is one of many opportunities available for those interested in international relations and global politics.

If anyone is interested in international relations or diplomacy, I encourage you to look at our political science and our global and international studies programs on campus,” Wiggins said. “They are full of amazing professors who care deeply for us students and classes that will help you understand our increasingly complex world.”

“Our whole team did amazing,” Trusz said. “It was such an honor to represent SUNY Oswego and do so as positively as I did. It's an experience I can keep on my resume and an experience that connected me to the school more than I have before.”