Undergraduates analyze U.S. policy at West Point
November 10, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 10, 2011) -- The 63rd Student Conference on United States Affairs concluded Nov. 5 when more than 200 undergraduates and cadets from 90 schools presented their findings on the global challenges facing the nation today.
"Since 1949, SCUSA has been a forum for civilian and military undergraduate students to discuss U.S. foreign policy," Class of 2012 Cadet Josh Miller, the SCUSA cadet commander, said.
The theme was "Thinking Beyond Boundaries: Contemporary Challenges to U.S. Foreign Policy."
During the conference, delegates discussed assigned issues in small group forums--facilitated by a cadet delegate and a senior mentor--and gained insight from experts during panel discussions.
Dr. Rajiv Shah, U.S. Agency for International Development administrator, provided the keynote address. Not only was Shah the first representative of USAID to speak at SCUSA, but he was once a delegate; he attended in 1994 as a representative of the University of Michigan.
Policy recommendations were presented in short skits that combined creativity with astute observations on 14 topics such as "American Society and its Military" and "Governing Cyberspace."
The best policy papers will be published in the academy's Undergraduate Journal of Social Sciences.
"Those papers will be seen by policy makers throughout U.S. and foreign administrations," Miller said.
Class of 2013 Cadet Robert Delaney, the SCUSA operations officer, first served as the tech cadet--or S6--two years ago before experiencing the conference from within last year.
Having served as the cadet leader--or CPOC--for the table discussion, he still communicates with those same colleagues.
That lasting impact of SCUSA is not a new revelation, Delaney said, and he was impressed to learn, even decades later, people still acquaint themselves with others having "attended that policy conference at West Point."
There's a challenge that every cadet embraces from being an ambassador of West Point. Delaney was proud to provide that USMA experience to his table.
"It was important to me that everyone had a vested interest in the paper we were to present and that everyone's voice was heard," Delaney said. "The challenge is integrating a group of diverse people and a lot of that happens the first two days as people are getting to know each other."
Attendees also experience cadet life at West Point during SCUSA. This includes eating meals at the Cadet Mess and overnights in the barracks. A military display station was set up one day outside Jefferson Hall featuring the weapons, transport and equipment familiar to Soldiers but foreign to most young collegians.
Class of 2014 Cadet Ahmad Nasir joined several cadets on the Weapons Display Staff, which allowed attendees to see and hold an assortment of weapons and equipment. As a plebe, Nasir attended as a delegate and hopes for another opportunity to participate in the conference.
He still communicates with fellow delegates from a year ago and even posted them a kickoff announcement for SCUSA on Facebook.
"Another goal of SCUSA is to strengthen civil-military relations. For many of these delegates this is the first time in their lives where they'll have any contact with the military," Miller said.
At the conclusion of the conference, Saim Saeed from Karachi, Pakistan, was named the honor delegate. Forty-four countries were represented in this year's conference, to include the United Kingdom, Colombia, Russia and Zimbabwe. Saeed was presented with the coveted SCUSA patch.
"He was a natural leader at his table who many of his peers deferred to and treated as an expert among (them)," Miller said. "He was very forthcoming about information and was just an overall asset to his group."