EuroSim Returns Home
More than 145 students from the United States and Europe convened on the Brockport campus for the 30th annual European Union Simulation — right where it all began.
The year was 1987. Brockport Professor William Andrews was asked to work with a group of students in the Department of Political Science interested in joining the Model United Nations. Considering hundreds of these simulations exist across the country, he suggested a unique alternative: a Model European Community. He asked the students to write to other political science departments in the State University of New York (SUNY) system inviting them to join the project. SUNYMEC, they would call it.
In spring 1988, after Andrews and his students managed to recruit four schools and 35 students, SUNYMEC was born.
The program has since evolved into EuroSim — an international, intercollegiate simulation of the European Union that annually brings together more than 200 faculty and students from universities in the United States and Europe to engage in a simulated debate of real-world public policy. It is the largest and longest-running European policy simulation in the world.
The location of the annual conference rotates among American and European host institutions. This year’s conference was held March 30 through April 2 at SUNY Brockport, its site of origin and the only public school in New York affiliated with EuroSim, honoring the program’s 30th anniversary.
Each student representative is assigned an alter ego to represent, which requires them to conduct varying levels of research depending on the statures of their roles.
“Some play permanent ambassadors, some secretaries or cabinet ministers, and some
prime ministers,” said Associate Professor Steven Jurek of the Department of Political Science and International Studies.
Jurek serves as the College’s faculty advisor for EuroSim and helped coordinate this year’s conference, which focused on the Energy Union and security of gas supply, culminating with a vote on final European Union policy.
“I find the intensity of the conference to be extremely rewarding. It is impossible to come out of it without improving your negotiation, public speaking, and overall leadership skills,” said senior Kelly Valente, the American student director and emcee of this year’s EuroSim event. “I’m lucky to be a part of it. It’s the only organization I know of that combines academics, study abroad, and extracurricular opportunities all in one.”
The five students who play European Commissioners spend months before the conference drafting the legislation proposal that will be debated by participants. This year, all five Commissioners were Brockport students.
When the conference is held in Europe, Jurek and EuroSim Club members embark on a six- to eight-day cultural excursion around the continent after attending it. Jurek also teaches a European Union integration class, which helps prepare students for the annual conference.
“We are one of the few schools in the state that dedicates an entire course to EuroSim,” said Jurek. “It gives me a chance to teach students the ins and outs; it’s very complex.”
Among the many former EuroSim participants who returned to campus for the 30th anniversary conference were Emeritus Professor Andrews and his former student, Farida Jalalzai ’96, who introduced Andrews at the opening ceremony.
Jalalzai helped organize the 1995 EuroSim conference at the College and now serves as what she calls an “unofficial ambassador” for the program.
“EuroSim allowed me to gain an awareness of the world. There are intellectual rewards while you simultaneously receive leadership training,” said Jalalzai, who is now Hannah Atkins Endowed Chair and associate professor of political science at Oklahoma State University. She credits Andrews for inspiring her interest in political science and motivating her to pursue a career as a scholar.
“What has been most gratifying is seeing an educational activity that I started continue so long and give so many students a unique and uniquely challenging and rewarding experience,” said Andrews. “Returning to EuroSim after such a long time and seeing that it is thriving gives me an immense feeling of pride and gratitude for those who have kept it going.”