Model UN team plans to use increased funding opportunities for excellence

Secretary Erica Serrone: “I think we are doing better at including people, being more of a team, more interactive with each other, more involved in each other’s lives.”

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From terrorism plots to economic sanctions to refugee camps, members of Model United Nations work to resolve international crises with students from around the world. Preparing all year for competition, students on MU’s Model UN team (MIZMUN) are excited to see how successful they’ll be with an almost entirely new team and club structure from last year.

According to President Amanda Brown, Model UN is an international organization that role-plays how the real United Nations works. This is done by delegates representing a country or person at a conference and then debating topics based off their particular policy.

“We’ll represent one country and then at the conference, we’re in different committees,” Brown said. “So you can handle issues like disarmament, gender issues, and then you have to act like how delegates from your country would act in accordance to how the UN works.”

While the club may seem politically oriented, Treasurer Madison Plaster ensures that anyone can join Model UN regardless of their major. She feels that because Model UN covers a broad range of topics, being knowledgeable about a variety of issues is beneficial.

“You don’t have to be a [political science] major or an international studies major or something that you would typically consider a stereotypical person that would join Model UN,” Plaster said. “At conferences, people come from a variety of majors. I’ve met someone from computer science. I’ve met someone from math.”

The topics for each conference vary from committee to committee. According to Plaster, her most challenging conference was when she had to debate the 1969 Israeli-Palestinian conflict on displacement. Brown’s favorite memory comes from a complex wartime issue that ended in an unexpected situation.

“[The topic] was the Boxer Rebellion when I got to be United States Navy, and it was a joint crisis [committee],” Brown said. “We worked within the Eight-Nation Alliance ... and so we had to work together while trying to resolve our wartime conflict, and then we ended up declaring World War I a few decades early.”

According to Plaster, Model UN enhances many skills, including organization, public speaking and writing. For Brown, the most important skill she’s learned from Model UN is how to work well with others.

“When you go to a conference, you have this idea of what you want to do and you’re like, ‘This benefits my country; let’s do this.’ But you’ll never pass a resolution that way,” Brown said. “So it’s really a collaborative effort and you have to know how to be able to negotiate with people.”

One change from previous years is MIZMUN recently received an increase in funding due to adviser William Horner’s efforts in creating a travel fund for the team. According to Plaster, this will be used to go to more conferences than in years past, giving club members more opportunities to compete. The club hopes to attend University of Chicago Model United Nations, American Model United Nations in Chicago and North American Model United Nations in Toronto.

“Luckily we’ve gotten an increase in funding this year, so hopefully we’ll be able to use that in ways that will make the club better and perform better and continue reaching that goal of recruiting more people to Model UN,” Plaster said.

After a difficult season last year, Secretary Erica Serrone is excited to create a new team dynamic. Her goal is for Model UN to continue growing into a more welcoming, caring environment. This, Serrone hopes, will encourage more people to join the club.

“I think we are doing better at including people, being more of a team, more interactive with each other, more involved in each other’s lives,” Serrone said. “And I feel like we have a really solid group of people who are dedicated this year in doing the work and doing well at conferences and they find [Model UN] important.”

According to Serrone, there are currently 16 members on MIZMUN, and a second series of tryouts will be held during the spring semester for anyone who wants to join. The first conference the team will be attending is on Nov. 17 in Chicago, Illinois.

Edited by Brooke Collier | bcollier@themaneater.com

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