Utah Valley University seeks NGO status with the United Nations

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Carrie Laudie | Staff Writer | @carrielaudie


Recently Utah Valley University applied with the United Nations to become a non-governmental organization. This would provide more students the opportunity to read statements at the UN during a general assembly or a workshop. UVU might not be granted with this status; as a state-funded school, the UN may view UVU as a governmental institution. Right now the application is in the review process and is caught up in bureaucratic red tape.

In August, Dr. Rusty Butler, associate vice-president in the Office of International Affairs, traveled to Russia and was awarded with an Acadamecian Vernadsky medal by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, a group he has been an honorary member of since 2007. While he was there a potential development happened when RANS asked him to be their official voice at the UN. RANS has official NGO status at the UN that they have never really exercised. There are official hurdles that they will have to get through before that happens.

14-09-04-RANS-award-silver-medal-diploma-2“I intend to use that to the benefit of our students here. I really like President Holland’s engagement philosophy. Of engaging the students directly, the student who traveled to the UN this last time said that he learned more from this single experience alone than he could have from studying out of books and never had this experience.  Those are the things that are very satisfying when students have that type of an experience,” said Butler.

In a typical year Butler travels to the UN four or five times. His time there includes developing relationships with ambassadors and diplomats, and working with the sustainable development committee. He brings students with him on these trips at least a once a year, so that the students can engage in a real world setting and apply the things they are learning here at UVU.

Last December, a UVU student had the opportunity to sit at the head table of a workshop at the UN and read a statement he had prepared. This statement is in the official records of the UN. This experience was made possible by the relationship that Butler had created with the Ambassador or Hungary on his visit to Utah. Normally these statements are reserved for members of NGOs. If all goes smoothly this won’t be the only student from UVU who has this opportunity.

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