Upcoming Student Conference on U.S. Affairs

(From Left to Right) Dr. Bill Raymond, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, alumna Gabriella Ferraro and senior Michaela Vahling at last year's SCUSA conference.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Bill Raymond.

By Hope Thompson, The Circuit.

The Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA) is a four-day foreign policy conference held at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

This year’s conference is held Nov. 1-4 with the theme, “The Politics of the Forgotten and the Aggrieved: Remaking the World Order?”

Every November, colleges across the country send students to SCUSA. While most are only allowed one delegate, past directors of the conference are allowed to bring another, so Benedictine College has the opportunity to send two. The school boasts this honor because associate professor of Political Science, Dr. Bill Raymond was director of the conference in 1996.

Raymond calls SCUSA “the best undergraduate foreign policy conference in the world.”

In order to apply, students must submit an essay on this year’s theme to a selection committee of professors at Benedictine and the two delegates will be chosen from there.

Senior Michaela Vahling, an attendee of the conference last year, recommends everyone interested should apply, adding that “it’s not just for political science majors.”

“It’s basically a little study abroad weekend, because you go to West Point, you’re living in the military culture and you’re meeting people from all over,” she said.

The conference is set up so that each group of 15-20 students are assigned a sub-topic and two moderators to help guide the discussion. The first three days are mainly focused on composing a presentation for Saturday morning on how their topic relates to the overall theme.

Raymond, who has been invited back as moderator the past two years, says that the presentations are given in the form of a skit to keep things entertaining.

“The great thing about it is that you still have the opportunity to be social while becoming informed on a topic that you’re passionate about,” he said. “You’re going to learn more about various topics, you have the opportunity to visit historic West Point, it’s going to look great on your resume and you’re going to make lifelong friends.”