Before September 2011, the West Virginia University College of Law’s International Law Students Association (ILSA) chapter was in need of rejuvenation. With only four members, the chapter was unable to hold meetings or sponsor events and only participated in one competition in the past year. Despite the odds associated with reviving a dying chapter, the 2011-2012 school year welcomed a new group of passionate students who were able to revitalize and re-invent ILSA as the winners of the 2012 ILSA Most Improved Chapter Award.
The Most Improved Chapter Award is given annually to the chapter that shows the most growth in a year’s time. Many national chapters are nominated, but it was WVU’s outstanding demonstration of growth that stood out to the judges. Since its rebirth, the chapter’s membership grew from 4 to 20, a new Constitution with new officer positions was drafted, and regular meetings were held throughout the semester. A far cry from the dying chapter it had been, this lively chapter even held an international food themed potluck at an international law professor’s house. Each member cooked a dish from a different country and shared their international stories and experiences.
In the academic arena, WVU’s ILSA chapter developed an International Law Lecture Series, bringing in three innovative speakers to the law school throughout the fall semester to speak to students about current international issues. Some ILSA members took the initiative find new experiences outside the law school, attending the International Law Weekend in New York where they heard Korean-American lawyer and Legal Adviser of the Department of State Harold Koh speak, learned about relevant international law issues, and met international law practitioners.
Competitively, five ILSA members and two coaches attended the Southern Regionals in Houston for the annual Jessup Competition, where they brought home the award for the Second Best Memorials in the whole region.
“Jessup was not only an incredible professional experience but a great personal one as well,” said ILSA member and Jessup competitor Derek Knopp. “Building professional and personal connections was the best part of Jessup.” WVU has not won a Jessup team award since the 1970s.
“Having the chance to lead a group dedicated to the furtherance of international law, and its capacity for global change, was an absolute honor,” said ILSA President and Jessup Co-Captain Mina Ghantous. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been surrounded by students as passionate about international law as me, and professors and faculty as dedicated to their students and their love of international law as those we have at WVU.”
Along with the impressive title of Most Improved Chapter, it will also receive $100 to spend on next year’s anticipated programming.