Guest Article: Chairing Social Responsibility

Article written by Andy

Andy is an Indonesian with a weirdly American accent.  As her final year of university draws near, now she mostly joins MUN conferences to meet her friends and reminisce the good old (chaotic) days. It helps that she loves dark jokes, music, poetry, and writing – things that many MUNers also share the love for.

If you ask me how the hell I managed to survive my first Model UN conference, you better ask my first chair, because she’s the one who knows. Or rather, she’s the reason I survived – and fell into the rabbit hole of Model UN.

My first committee was the UN Human Rights Council. I chose it thinking that it would be slow-paced and filled with fellow beginners instead of heated debates and pro delegates spitting fire. I have no idea what my chair saw in me back then – being the shy delegate that can’t speak up in unmods and whose voice quivered when speaking on the podium – but in a committee whose top 3 awardees are all seasoned veterans, the Verbal Commendation she gave me ended up becoming my motivation to continue Model UN until this far; in a way, it’s a sign that Model UN welcomes me.

Last month, my first chair recently graduated from university. I sent her a message on Instagram, thanking her for the Verbal Commendation she gave me back then. She needs to know how her small gesture ended up having so much impact on how I’ve grown in Model UN and as a person.

Because if my chair hadn’t made my first committee so enjoyable, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with it, and I certainly wouldn’t have made it my mission to become a chair that could do the same.

There is no fixed rule on when a delegate should begin transitioning into being a chair – we just know. For me, the moment came when I won my first, last, and only ‘double shotgun’: Best Position Paper and Best Delegate. On one hand, there are sentimental reasons behind putting my delegate career on hiatus: I knew I wouldn’t be able to repeat the performance I gave, at least not with another co-delegate (which might require a whole new article). On the other hand, the moment I got that award, I felt a sense of relief – as if there’s a burning fire inside me that got put out, and in its place was peace. I knew I have already gained enough lessons from Model UN. The desire to share my experiences through chairing and coaching gradually phased out the remaining shreds of competitive hunger I have as a delegate.

Chairpersons are the face of their committees. They’re the first persons a delegate faces in an MUN conference. For delegates, their chairperson’s conduct will influence how they view the entire conference. Was the chair friendly or strict? Were they professional? Were his or her decisions clear and justifiable, or were they biased? For newbies in particular, how a chairperson conducts their first conference will shape their first impression on what MUN is like. As explained above, my first chair made me see that MUN is enjoyable. Unfortunately, a lot of my friends didn’t have the same experience in their first committees. I’ve had talented delegates decide to not continue MUN because they didn’t find their committees enjoyable. Good chairpersons make MUN something to look forward to for their delegates. Bad or mediocre chairpersons make MUN a chore, or worse, a traumatic experience.

A chairperson should use their influence to become the heart of their committees or conferences they staff at. This is where having a clear chairing vision is important. Excellent chairpersons have a clear vision on why they chair, which guides them in conducting the debate and gives them a distinctive style. Some chairpersons are there to create substantive and high-quality debates. Some may focus on chairing issues they are passionate on, be it hard politics or softer social issues. Other chairs may focus on delegate development and in sharing their experiences. Personally, my chairing vision is a specific part of the third example: I want to create committees that could welcome all its participants in the world of Model UN. I always strive to make my study guide clear and understandable, so that delegates can have a good understanding of the topic. During the committee session, I made sure to be firm with the Rules of Procedure and keep a professional distance, but outside the debate I open myself to know them both as a person and as a delegate. I want my delegates to get the most out of their conferences: good debates, connections, self-development, and all that MUN could give.

The chairing vision I have now became solidified when I became the Head Chair of UNESCO Singapore MUN 2019. Since almost all of UNESCO was beginners to MUN, the debate got stuck at several points. I started talking to them in between committee sessions to know what their difficulties are and what they need from us chairs. To my surprise, the delegates actually respected us more once we showed that we’re open to them. Gradually, we got closer, and many of them started telling me more about their personal lives. Even long after SMUN 2019 ended, my UNESCO delegates and I still kept in touch. We hung out when I came to Singapore last July. One of them even became a MUN mentee of mine! She routinely came to me for MUN advice even after SMUN, and once invited me to help coach her school’s delegation. The biggest surprise was when she told me that her mother – who was in the UNESCO committee room – gave positive reviews for me as a chair! She said ‘my mom said you’re the best chair she’s ever seen, she likes how you brought yourself up there and how you talk’. I am touched to know that my delegates (and their parents, wow) saw a positive influence in me. That experience showed me how influential chairs are to a delegate’s MUN career – both in starting out and in moving forward.

All in all, everyone chairs for different reasons. Some for prestige, other for connections, and I know most of us want to enjoy the MUN atmosphere without having to suffer in the debate. For me, my MUN journey made me realize that chairing is also a community service for the next generation. All of us veterans who have become chairs have to give the best of our expertise and instill the love of MUN to our successors. The more we realize our influence on the MUN community, the more we will work to create the best MUN experience for our delegates. Even after university, the MUN world goes on – but we can, and should leave our legacies while the time is here.

MUN01 would like to thank Andy for her thoughtful contribution. We will be accepting new guest writers soon, so keep a look out for opportunities to be featured on MUN01.com!

Conference Recap: SCSY XLII

Yale University hosted its annual Specialized & Crisis Simulation at Yale (SCSY) in its 42nd iteration over the weekend of October 24-27, 2019. This year’s conference was led by Secretary-General Lauren Gatta and was held on Yale’s campus.

Secretary-General Lauren Gatta provided this quote about SCSY XLII and the weekend, “SCSY XLII was the most challenging undertaking of my college career so far, yet I loved the experience of providing exciting committees to delegates coming from all over the country and the world. The whole team worked to build upon the successes of last year, and improve what we felt needed the most attention. I’m extremely proud of our initiatives in rebranding the conference, providing professional materials, and ensuring that delegates had a fun time both inside and outside of committee. Working with limited resources and unfortunate circumstances (30 delegate drops in the week before the conference), we were nonetheless able to put on a small but powerful conference. I’m confident that future years will continue to reinforce the legacy of SCSY.”

Attending Delegations

MUN01 was provided the following delegation list by SCSY:

  • Anderson University
  • Baruch College
  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Florida International University
  • Hamilton College
  • Kutztown University
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • McGill University
  • Princeton University
  • Seton Hall University
  • Tufts University
  • United States Military Academy
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Virginia
  • West Point
  • College of William & Mary

Committee Overview

SCSY XLII offered a wide array of committee topics, all within the crisis realm, including one Security Council committee. The 17 committees were: Ad Hoc, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Board of Theranos, The Council for the Unification of the Subcontinent (CUS) 2050, CCCC: Climate Change Crisis Committee, Colonization of Mars, Fyre Festival, Hunger Games, Kashmiri Conflict, JCC: Anglo-Zulu War (British v. Zulu), NAFTA Renegotiations, Non-Aligned Movement, JCC: Peloponnesian War (Delian League v. Sparta), UN Security Council, and Taiwan Strait 2020. This year’s ad hoc topic was a meeting of El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel in 2001.

In regards to background guide quality, the guides had a satisfactory amount of information. The guides also offered a good amount of links to further investigate the topic. The formatting could have been improved upon. 

Committee Comments

As it should always be said, the committee comments section should serve as a balanced critique of the conference. MUN01 recognizes the hardwork and dedication that all Secretariat members put into the weekend. However, MUN01 also believes that delegates should be able to receive honest opinions and conferences gain feedback to grow and improve every year!

Committee Praises

Delegates praised the location of committee on the beautiful campus of Yale. There were lots of easily accessible food and coffee locations during breaks which helped delegates refuel throughout the day. The schedules on Friday and Saturday were also appreciated, with no start times for any days before 12pm. Delegates also appreciated the wide array of topics to choose from for the weekend. Overall, delegations seemed satisfied with weekend and said they were looking forward to returning next year!

Committee Critiques

Most rooms did not have more than a Crisis Director and maybe one staffer and some seemed to have no separate back room at all. Overall, some committees were extremely small (5 delegates) with the average being 8-12 delegates. A recommendation was made during feedback to condense the amount of committees offered to expand on crisis staffing size and ensure committee sizes around 10-15 delegates. However, MUN01 also acknowledges the difficulty of ensuring all of your rooms are the perfect size with late delegation drops!

Socials

This year, SCSY provided one social for the weekend on Friday night at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. A separate area with a bar, TVs, and a dance floor with music was rented out for delegates to mingle and enjoy themselves. As the night went on, delegates got more into dancing and having fun. However, some were disappointed at the lack of BBQ at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ.

The end of a long weekend came during Sunday’s closing ceremonies. After Secretary-General Gatta’s quick speech, individual awards and delegation awards were handed out.

Awards

Delegation Awards were given out as follows:

Best Large Delegation – University of Pennsylvania

Outstanding Large Delegation- West Point

Best Small Delegation- McGill University

Outstanding Small Delegation- Princeton University

To learn more about SCSY XLII click here to see their conference website. Thank you to the teams and delegates who participated in building this article with their comments and critiques. A thank you as well to SCSY for providing conference information. The article has been updated to reflect this new information. Congrats to all who competed in or staffed the conference!

Guest Article: Transforming My Delegate Style and Letting MUN be Fun Again

Article by Stephen Hoffman

My name is Stephen Hoffman, and I am a junior at Seton Hall University from just outside Philadelphia, PA. I am the current President of Seton Hall’s Competitive Team, and have done MUN since my freshman year of college. When my life is not consumed by Model UN (very rarely), I am likely playing golf with friends and family, feverishly rooting on Seton Hall Basketball or Philadelphia Sports, or spending time with dogs.

We have all been at a conference with that one delegate who is constantly a thorn in the side of the committee. They’re unfriendly, uninterested in working with other people, and just ultimately slowing down the flow of the committee as a whole. I used to be that delegate. I was the guy that was taking things (and myself) a little too seriously and making the committee a little harder for everyone else. However, I can guarantee that this does not describe me now. According to teammates, I underwent “the most radical transformation a Model UN delegate could make”, as I shifted my entire mentality towards MUN, changing it from something strictly competitive to something fun. This process wasn’t easy, as it took a long series of mistakes to show that something needed to change.

What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of awards and rankings is that Model UN is supposed to be enjoyable. We are supposed to get excited about traveling to conferences and competing in exciting committees, regardless of the outcome at closing ceremonies. Disappointments are natural and bound to happen in one’s MUN career, but ultimately, we should feel better about our experience at the end of the conference. I learned this lesson the hard way, as multiple failures made me re-evaluate my stance on Model UN as a whole.

My freshman year was average at best, as after attending two conferences I left with one honorable mention. This was typical for a freshman on our team, and after my second conference I told myself that I would continue to improve and exceed expectations. My role within the club increased as I became our treasurer, and things were looking to be consistently improving. This optimism was quickly knocked down, as things remained bleak the following semester.

I attended two conferences in the fall semester of my sophomore year. The first was the most difficult conference I had ever attended, and I quickly realized this when my elementary crisis notes weren’t working anymore. While expectations were at their highest in my first conference as a head delegate, I failed to award and subsequently felt like I had let my team down. The second conference of the semester was a staple for our team, as we attend every year in hopes of winning a delegation award. I was in my dream position, as an OPEC committee was something I always searched for on the circuit. I had a strong position and spent hours on research in preparation for this conference. After leaving the committee, thinking my debate was strong and my crisis impressive, I sat throughout closing without hearing my name called. In the midst of this, my team won the award for Outstanding Large Delegation, and if I did what I was supposed to, I would have pushed us to Best.

This felt like most immense failure of my life. A Middle Eastern Studies minor coming up short in an OPEC committee seemed virtually unforgivable, and I was left feeling like I didn’t have a place in the club anymore. I internalized this loss for a long time, forever convinced that I deserved a high award in that committee. It wasn’t until just before our next conference months later that I truly contemplated my performance at the previous conference. I asked myself hard questions. Did I work with the other people in the room? Did I write a directive or resolve an issue with any other delegates? The answer to these questions made clear why I left empty handed.

 I was attending conferences for one reason and one reason alone: to win. I did not care if I made a single friend; if I walked away with a gavel, nothing else mattered. Instead of helping to find solutions for the problems, I would simply point out problems with a solution. It was then when I realized that all this strategy accomplished was taking the fun out of Model UN, something I enjoy doing with friends to have fun with one another and compete in a positive manner. If I could translate this environment to a conference, I realized that even if I don’t walk away with an award, I will at least have a good time.

 And thus, the transformation was born. At the next conference, I tried my absolute hardest to be as friendly as possible, instead of attempting to instill intimidation in other delegates when I entered the room. I relaxed, I exhaled, I balanced listening to others instead of dominating the room, and I worked with almost everybody in the room on a directive that weekend. At the previous conference, I rarely even wrote directives, placing my ideas above those of others. I loosened up and I let Model UN be fun again, laughing at things that happened in committee and making genuine friendships with the other delegates and chairs. I remember one occasion when a freshman delegate and I clashed in debate, with the two of us having consecutive speeches and going back and forth in a contentious fashion. Typically, I would have held that grudge against the delegate for the rest of the conference. We swiftly went into an unmoderated caucus after this debate, and I went up to her and told her that it was fun, and that she was doing a great job. She laughed and said that I was too, later leading to us co-writing a directive that passed unanimously. Experiences like that make this conference a turning point in my Model UN career, as I eventually walked away with my first gavel and two additional awards that semester.        

Nobody likes walking into committee and seeing that one delegate that truly ruined their weekend a few months ago at a conference. We sometimes forget that the circuit is not entirely about winning the most awards and achieving the highest ranking, but rather about making real connections with other passionate students who share in our interests and ambition to make the world a better place. Model UN is always competitive, and there will always be letdowns, but sometimes these disappointments will lead to personal growth and the improvement of skills. Failure taught me these vital lessons, and I left the committee changed as a delegate and a leader.

MUN01 would like to thank Stephen for his contribution. If you would like to guest write for us, please visit our Guest Writing tab on our site.

Picking Your Senior Secretariat

So you want to host a conference? We love to see it. Before you do anything, you have to find 4-7+ other people who also want to host a conference. This will be your Senior Secretariat, and all of you will be responsible for nearly every aspect of the conference. No pressure. So without any frills, here’s how to pick a good secretariat.

Secretary General

The big position. For this role, you want someone who’s good at delegating but also can pick up slack in any areas they may need to. Essentially it’s someone who can do all the jobs on Senior Sec, but doesn’t unless it’s necessary. Part of the job involves making decisions that some people won’t appreciate (e.g. staff selection, committee topic finalization, any dais issues that may come up), so you’ll need someone who can be both assertive and understanding. It’s a fine line to tread and no one will be perfect at the job, but try to get as close as you can. Lastly, you’ll need someone who can think on their feet, since when the actual conference rolls around there are always last-minute things to tend to that someone forgot about. Our team selects the Secretary General through elections at the same time we elect our new Executive Board for the upcoming school year. The Sec Gen then selects her Senior Secretariat through a process that can change depending on who the Sec Gen is, but we usually do an application/interview process.

Director General

So you have your Sec Gen, amazing. Or you are the Sec Gen, even better. The DG should be the right-hand woman to the Sec Gen. Depending on the number of positions on Senior Sec, they’ll need to help the Sec Gen follow up with everyone and also sometimes jump into the Sec Gen role if needed. They, like the Sec Gen, need to have an assertive side. An effective line of communication with the Sec Gen is necessary, so someone who works well with the Sec Gen is important. Think of it as a Vice President role. We also have our DG work on the conference website and formatting of background guides. 

Under-Secretary General of External Relations

This is where the titles of Senior Sec members start becoming different depending on the conference you go to. Charge d’Affaires is another name for this position that we’ve seen at many conferences. This position will handle all of the invoicing, emailing, and communicating with advisors and administration about finances and the like. They should be borderline obsessive about checking email, and able to do basic math (with the aid of spreadsheets, of course). You’ll also want someone who can be professional yet firm in an email since there will inevitably be things that happen where you need to mediate an issue involving delegation sizes, payment, etc. The USG of External Relations should also work closely with the Sec Gen to make sure that payment policies and invoices are kept up to date and that accurate records are kept since even when the conference is over, there will still be outstanding payments to track down. 

Under-Secretary General of Crisis Committees

Since our school’s conference has both GA and Crisis committees, we have different USGs for both. The USG of Crisis doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who’s good at crisis committees. They should be someone who can juggle multiple things at once and also help train daises to run the room and train staff to respond to notes. While creativity is important, promptness is more important. Since they’ll be working directly with the committees, this will be the person responsible for tracking down the background guides and any other materials necessary for the committee. Handling issues with daises is inevitable so someone with good interpersonal skills is necessary. It’s not required to have someone who wants to reinvent the wheel where crisis is concerned, but a little creativity regarding the make-up of the committees can’t hurt. 

Under-Secretary General of GA Committees

This position has many of the same qualifications as the USG of Crisis. They should be able to train daises and also help with any questions the daises and delegates may have. Depending on the type of conference you’re running, the USG of GA may need to help daises develop interesting ideas for committees. GA topics can often be very dry depending on the type of delegates you’re trying to appeal to, so someone with new, fresh ideas for topics is helpful. 

Other Positions

  • Director of Merchandise – creativity in this role is key. Good merch is something we really enjoy in a conference, and being able to slap a sticker on your laptop that shows you do MUN is quirky and relatable (depending on who you ask). You want someone in this role who can be on top of ordering merch and who also has a Venmo, CashApp, PayPal, or whatever you’re planning on using to keep track of merch purchases. 
  • Director of Logistics – you’re going to need to book a lot of rooms for your conference. Staff rooms, committee rooms, a Senior Sec room, etc. Sometimes this becomes a huge hassle, which is where this position comes in. Someone who is really on top of logistics and who has impeccable time management is ideal for this. They’ll also likely be the person organizing the schedule with the Sec Gen and making sure people know where to be and when. 
  • Director of Technology – for our conference’s purposes, the DG handles all the website stuff, but some conferences function differently (and that’s okay). Whoever’s in this position should really like building websites (via WordPress, html, Wix, or whatever you’re using to host your website). They should have a good eye for aesthetics since no one likes a garbage-looking website. Hopefully they’re also good at editing things, since they might have to look through background guides as a third pair of eyes to make sure they’re good before they go on the website. 

A Few Words of Wisdom

  • Don’t feel like you need a huge secretariat. Our conference functions perfectly fine with 5 Senior Sec members, and we’ve been able to consolidate positions a lot in the last few years so there’s less dead weight. A big secretariat can also lead to problems, so only keep the positions you really need. 
  • Just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean they’ll be good for a position. Yeah, it sucks having to deny your friends but at the end of the day you want someone in a position who’s going to do the job right, not just be your friend. 
  • You will have to deal with issues with daises not getting along. It happens. People who do MUN have strong personalities that often clash. If it gets really bad, you might have to fire someone. It happens. Don’t sweat it. You’re there to run a conference, not be someone’s mom or best friend. 
  • Have fun! Planning a conference is stressful (trust me, we know) so take some time after the conference is over to thank your Senior Sec, staff, and everyone who helped you along the way. Enjoy the little victories along the way.

Conference Recap: NCSC XLVII

Conference General Information

Georgetown University’s National Collegiate Security Conference (NCSC) took place in its 47th iteration. It is one of the oldest, collegiate Model UN conferences in North America. Over October 17-20, 2019 many delegates convened at the DoubleTree by Hilton Crystal City for an exciting weekend of debate and crises. This year’s Secretary-General was junior Science, Technology, and International Affairs major Mark Wilcox.

Attending Delegations

The following delegations notified MUN01 about their attendance at NCSC XLVII. If your delegation attended, please feel free to reach out and we’ll add you to the list!:

  • American University
  • Artvin Coruh University
  • Boston University
  • Cornell University
  • Florida International University
  • George Washington University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Committee Overview

NCSC XLVII provided a staggering 20 committees for delegates to select from, broken down into four “Assemblies and Summits” with 60-120 delegates each following GA procedure, four “Councils and Boards” with 20-25 delegates each following crisis procedure, four “Regionals” with 18-22 delegates each following crisis procedure, four “Cabinets” with 18-22 delegates each following crisis procedure, and four “Joint Crisis” with 16-18 delegates each following crisis procedure. Please note, there were two Joint Crisis topics with two committees each.

The committees were as follows. “Assemblies and Summits”: Socialist International, 1976; UN Conference on Water, 1977; Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review, 1995; Wolesi Jirga, 2006. “Councils and Boards”: Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, 1951; The Little Spy Engine that Could: Cuban Intelligence Directorate, 1969; Reboot 2018: Microsoft Board of Directors; UN Security Council, 2019. “Regionals”: Operation Gladio, 1958; Hidden Powers: Women for Security and Rights in Europe, 1973; Plan Colombia, 1998; 3rd Asian Defence Ministers Meeting Plus, 2015. “Cabinets”: The Ad-Hoc Committee of the Secretary General; Cleaning Up the Dirty War – Argentine Cabinet, 198; Chocolat et Guerre sur la Côte D’Ivoire: Ivorian Cabinet, 2011; The Khan’s Court: Kazakhstani Cabinet, 2019. “Joint Crisis”: JCC The Russian Revolution: White Russia v. Red Russia, 1917; JCC US Presidential Election: Al Gore v. George W. Bush, 2000.

As you can see, there were a lot of diverse and interesting committee topics that should appeal to all delegates and their interests!

Committee Comments

It will always be said, the committee comments section should serve as a balanced critique of the conference. MUN01 recognizes the hardwork and dedication that all Secretariat members put into the weekend. However, MUN01 also believes that delegates should be able to receive honest opinions and conferences gain feedback to grow and improve every year!

Committee Praises

According to one delegate, “in crisis the outroom and speed of staff was phenomenal” and that delegate’s dais was “consistent with their parli pro.” Multiple delegates praise the conference for being extremely well run and a generally good time. When critiques were brought up, delegates generally felt that they were addressed by the end of the conference.

Committee Critiques

One delegate said that there was “obvious pre-writing” and “clause deletion” in their committee. The delegate in the room said that the dais did little to address the issue. Another delegate wished for more consistency in chairing across committees, such as a standardization of being relaxed or strict on parli pro. Another delegate was frustrated that up to four delegates from the same school were in one crisis room. One minor complaint was not being made aware of the location of the social until the day of the event.

Social 

The social at NCSC this year was a Saturday club night that ran from 9pm-2am.

Awards

As the conference ended on Sunday, it was time for awards!

Delegation Awards were given as follows:

Best Large – University of Chicago

Outstanding Large  – University of Pennsylvania

Best Small – University of California, Berkeley 

Outstanding Small – Boston University

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County team from NCSC! Thanks for sharing the photo with us!

To read more about NCSC XLVII click here to see the conference website. Thank you to the numerous teams and delegates who contributed their thoughts and the awards list to this article. NCSC was extended an opportunity to contribute, but as of publishing has not responded. Congrats to all who competed in or staffed the conference!

How to Research a Made-Up Crisis Position

Imagine this. You’re excited for your committee assignment, you receive your position and your committee name, you look up your position name on your preferred search engine (you Google it, let’s be honest), and nothing comes up. Correction–you get results, but absolutely nothing useful. You have a sinking feeling and you realize, your position is made-up. Whether you’re in a futuristic committee, a committee so niche names aren’t available, or a crisis topic that needed extra positions to be invented, there are lots of reasons why a crisis position would be made-up by conference staffers. This guide will help you research to feel prepared regardless of your situation.

For made-up positions, the most important aspects of research will lie in understanding the world around you, your potential abilities, and your limitations. 

There are a few things you should immediately do to establish the world around you.

You should first identify what time period your crisis committee is in. That means recognizing if the committee is set in the past, the present, or the future. It will make a difference how you research the position. To do this should immediately Google the start date, or at least the start year, of committee to look for important events that occurred during that time. Wikipedia typically has brief rundowns of big events if you just Google “Wikipedia [start year].” You want to pay specific attention to events that happened very close to the location that your committee is set in so you can keep an eye out for crisis updates you might encounter in the future and also events that happened previously to set the stage for what you will be debating in committee.

If you’re in a futuristic committee, you are going to be relying a lot more on the background guide. Looking up “2346” on Wikipedia as a start year isn’t going to work like it would in a historical or present day committee. Cross your fingers that your dais and staffers have created a comprehensive guide that gives you a good idea of the world you’re stepping into. Usually there will be a timeline of the fictional, futuristic events that have resulted in the current crisis. Read the guide carefully and pick up on the world that was created for you. Make note of the geopolitical setting, the invented history, and the major actors you will be encountering. 

You also want to keep in mind what abilities you will gain from the time period you are in, and what limitations you might face. I’ll talk more about that later, but for now I’ll talk about your possibilities. 

Understand your potential abilities.

Another thing that good background guides will give you, even if your position is invented, is a little bit of history about the invented position and potential resources you could draw on. Now obviously they’re not going to just hand you ideas for a crisis arc, but they may mention certain resources you have and then you can try to mold your arc around that. For instance if they say you own an olive garden, like an actual garden of olives, you can figure out how you would utilize that resource potentially in a crisis arc and you can also do further research on the importance of olive gardens in the setting you’re in and see if there’s any kind of ideas for crisis that come to you while you’re doing that research. 

Another great tactic is to find people in history similar to your position. For example, if you’re an invented Soviet telecommunications CEO, go ahead and research several things. Look up Soviet policy at the time, specifically surrounding telecommunications, broadcasting, etc. Look up companies that you may be able to model yourself after and look up what kind of powers CEOs hold exactly. You may find similar people or organizations in history you can model yourself after!

Finally, you should understand your limitations.

An important aspect of committees is understanding your technological limitations. For instance, if you’re in a historical committee in the 1600s, obviously you can’t use cell phones or any kind of new technology in your arc. However, that doesn’t mean that you should feel constrained in your arcs. Doing deeper research on that time period can reveal interesting and new ideas to use in your crisis arc that are more unique than bugging a room before that technology was invented. You never know, your position may be BFFs with the guy that invented the catapult! Or maybe you can pretend that you are!

In futuristic committees, limitations can more easily be overcome. As mentioned previously, there is often more leeway in futuristic committees to creating a lot of the world’s canon in the back room. Obviously if the crisis room shuts you down, don’t push back because they have the final say, but you can use this type of committee to your advantage in terms of technological experimentation. However, this type of committee may feel limiting to people who base their arcs and get a lot of their ideas from history. But, if you’re super creative this could work to your advantage!

Having a made-up crisis position doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed in committee! With these tactics, you can succeed in your made-up crisis position through smart research choices and thinking outside the box.     

Guest Article: How My First Conference Taught Me to Love Model UN

Article By Darya Foroohar

Darya is a senior at Bard High School Early College Manhattan, where she is the Under-Secretary General for her school’s MUN team. She enjoys crisis and has won multiple awards in various conferences, the highest being best delegate. Outside of committee, her writing on MUN-related issues has been published on Best Delegate, and she runs an extremely funny MUN meme account called @poi_ntofinformation.

It was 10:30 P.M. on the eve of my first Model UN conference, and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. My alarm was set for 5:45 A.M. My suitcase was filled to the brim with Western Business Attire. I had emailed all of my teachers to notify them of my upcoming absence, finished the work that was going to be due while I was away, and stuffed my backpack full of writing supplies. There was only one more thing to be done. Hands trembling, I feverishly googled “how do you do model un.” My heart beat faster as I realized I understood nothing about what I was going to do the next day.

I had impulsively signed up for this conference in March, after my friend, who was on the Secretariat of my school’s MUN team, told me there was an empty spot at CMUNC, Cornell’s conference, which was hosted in April. Even though I hadn’t done Model UN before, I immediately said yes, having been interested in the club for a long time but never taking the opportunity to join. Unfortunately, my busy schedule prevented me from actually going to any of the Model UN meetings before the conference, so I only had a vague idea of what MUN was. When it was time to choose committees, I had no idea what any of the acronyms, like ECOSOC and SOCHUM, meant, and I was too embarrassed to ask. I didn’t even know what a committee was. Unsure, I impulsively picked the one whose name I could at least somewhat understand: “Crisis: Animal Farm.” I didn’t know what crisis meant, but I had read Animal Farm, which seemed like a start. Yet the warnings of my fellow club members, who told me of vicious power delegates and ruthless bloc politics, filled my head with visions of failure and humiliation.

Their words were racing through my mind as I frantically tried to teach myself how to MUN in one night; they stayed with me on the bus to Ithaca and did not depart as I nibbled on pre-conference pizza. During opening ceremonies, I stared in awe at the huge auditorium and the hundreds of delegates that filled it, each looking more prepared than I was. I wanted nothing more than to run away, but I knew that if I chickened out, I would never forgive myself. Before I entered the committee room, I reminded myself what my friend had told me: no one else knows what they’re doing, either.

My committee was a simulation of the novel Animal Farm, set right after the animals had revolted and driven Mr. Jones out of the farm. The objective of the committee was to form a functioning government while dealing with both internal and external threats, which would come in the form of crisis updates caused by both staffers and delegates. I was representing Mr. Whymper, which made my situation slightly more difficult because he was not an animal and therefore did not have the trust of most of the people in the room. As the chair was making his welcoming remarks, I looked around the room, wondering if anyone else was as confused and nervous as I was.

I never did find out the answer to this, but I certainly discovered that I was far from the least capable in committee, a fear that had consumed me in the days leading up to the conference. Put on the spot during a round robin, I stammered out a few words and then sunk back into my seat, hoping people wouldn’t snicker. No one did. In fact, the amusement came from the delegate representing Mr. Jones, who spoke in a southern drawl and pretended to be drunk for the entirety of his one-minute speech. Other delegates spoke even less than I did. I was filled with relief– this wasn’t so bad! In fact, once I got over my fear of speaking, committee became fun. Each crisis note I wrote was more inventive, I raised my placard more often, and I formed alliances with multiple delegates. The fast pace of crisis kept me engaged, and the multiple updates assured me that if my first plan didn’t work, I could keep trying.

Whenever I was back with my MUN team, I gushed about how much I loved my committee and told them about all my crisis plans (such as creating an opium trade ring). My worries had vanished; all I worried about now was if I would get a chance to speak in the next moderated caucus. The committee was excellently run, a fact I appreciate in hindsight due to later experiences in disorganized committees. My chair was good-natured and the other delegates, while frustrating at times, were far from the malicious snakes I was told to expect. Many, even those I wasn’t working with in committee, offered encouragement and tips after hearing it was my first conference. I was awed by their eloquence and confidence in committee, seeing how different strategies– from playing the mediator to dedicating all time and energy to crisis notes– paid off. Yet I didn’t just learn how to do well in MUN, I learned that I was capable of doing well, a fact I had not dared to believe beforehand, not wanting to be disappointed in myself.         Ultimately, I didn’t get an award, a fact which did not surprise me, seeing as committee did not shape itself around my crisis arc (I didn’t even know what a crisis arc was). But instead of being disappointed, I was eager to return to the competitive, exhilarating world I had gotten just a taste of. I eagerly signed up for conferences the following year and even became a club officer, encouraging newcomers to go to conferences even though they didn’t know much about how do do MUN yet. At every conference I’ve been to since, I have learned new ways to debate and communicate with people, winning awards and shaping committee, but it was at CMUNC, my first conference, that I truly learned not just what it means to do model UN, but how to try something new: you may think you don’t know what you’re doing, but neither does anyone else.

Conference Recap: BARMUN XII

The Boston Area Model United Nations Conference (BARMUN) occurred in its 12th iteration this past weekend from October 3rd to October 6th. The conference took place on Boston University’s campus was led to success by this year’s Secretary-General Akash Chopra.

Akash generously contributed to this article with both comments on the weekend as well as the delegation award winners. About this year’s BarMUN, Akash wrote, “BarMUN XII was the most successful BarMUN that has been hosted by Boston University. BarMUN XII brought with it many firsts – this is the first time that we have over 400 delegates at our conference, the first time we have over 40 delegations attending, the first time that we have 17 committees and the first time that we have 100% of our merchandise sales dedicated toward our sponsor charity (Charity:Water). Having our sponsored charity receive all the merchandise sales was always a vision of mine and Jonathan and I was extremely glad budgeting wise, when we were able to make this possible.”  

It’s always commendable to see a conference dedicate part of their income to giving back and BarMUN XII’s decision to do so is highly regarded.

Attending Delegations

The following schools attended the conference, as listed alphabetically in the delegate handbook:

  • American University
  • Boston College
  • Brown University
  • Clark University
  • Clarkson University
  • Colgate University
  • Columbia University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Elon University
  • Emory University
  • Florida International University
  • Fordham University
  • Georgetown University
  • George Washington University
  • Harvard University
  • Indiana University
  • McGill University
  • Michigan State University
  • Middlebury College
  • New York University
  • Northeastern University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Penn State University
  • Princeton University
  • Roger Williams University
  • Seton Hall University
  • State University of New York at Geneseo
  • The United States Naval Academy
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Albany
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Vermont
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Wellesley College
  • Wheaton College

Committee Overview

BarMUN XII featured 17 committees this year with a mix of procedural styles from General Assembly style Economic & Social Councils, Specialized Committees, and Crisis Committees. 

The three ECOSOC committees included The United States Summit on the Use of Federal Land, Senado Federal: Aftermath of the World’s Spotlight, and CHOGM2020: The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. 

The three Specialized Committees were the Belt & Road Initiative, Project Looking Glass, and Brexit: The Cabinet of Theresa May. 

BarMUN’s most heavily featured committee style was their 11 crisis committees, including a two room JCC. The single room crisis committees were: Ukranian Missile Crisis (1991), 2018 Facebook Board of Directors, Pax Britannica, The Ohio Gang, The Peace of Westphalia, Pope Leo’s Cardinals, Jefferson’s Cabinet, The Committee of 40, and the Ad Hoc. The JCC was called A Portrait of Our Neighbors: Orthodox v. Reformist Communists and is based on the “aftershocks of the Sino-Soviet Communist split” based on the topic blurb on the website.

This year’s ad hoc committee was all about the Salem Witch Trials to feature a more local, albeit historical, topic.

In regards to the background guide quality, the guides were praised for their detailed, thorough, and informative historical background on the topic and the guide’s overall formatting and design.

However, some delegates noted the guides had unclear start dates, sometimes a lack of clear committee direction, and that some positions on the guide that were assigned were missing from the character dossier section. Please note that the latter problem was fixed promptly when the issue was brought to Secretariat before the start of the conference. 

Committee Comments

As it should always be said, the committee comments section should serve as a balanced critique of the conference. MUN01 recognizes the hardwork and dedication that all Secretariat members put into the weekend. However, MUN01 also believes that delegates should be able to receive honest opinions and conferences gain feedback to grow and improve every year!

Committee Praises

Overall, BarMUN praises came mostly from in-room performance by daises and satisfaction with committee topics. Delegates were generally satisfied with the chairing and it seemed like all the chairs had been trained and had some prior experience running a room. The selection of committee topics was also given two thumbs up for their range in topics and interest factor. 

Committee Critiques

The most common critiques of the conference stemmed from backroom problems. According to delegates in specialized committees, procedure for that committee type was unclear and unclarified until day two of the conference. In committees such as Pax Britannica, there was not a clear start date and committee jumped ahead 20 years until delegates protested and it was lowered to a 12 year time jump. Some other delegates had complaints over crisis updates that seemed unrelated to delegate’s arcs. Crisis notes response time were also an issue. Another complaint was that the first session of committee lasted 3.5 hours and went until 11pm. A suggestion was that an hour be taken off that day and moved to Friday’s session.

Socials

BarMUN XII hosted both a head delegate social and a typical delegate social for the weekend. The head delegate social took place on Friday night at the Fenmore Grill inside of the Hotel Buckmister, one of the two recommended hotels for delegations. A short walk from the head delegate feedback room, the event featured an open bar with beer and wine for those of age and a buffet of Italian food. It was all free for the head delegates and was greatly appreciated after the second day of committee.

The second social was for all attending delegates on Saturday night and was held at Boston’s Hard Rock Cafe in a separate event room with a bar, some tables, and a large dance floor with a DJ. Delegates appreciated the 5pm end time of committee that day and the break before the 9pm start of the social. Many enjoyed it right up to the 12am end time which disappointed some delegates, but was necessary due to the closing time of the restaurant.

Awards

As is always the case, Sunday brought an end to the weekend’s antics and debate. Secretary General Akash took the podium during closing ceremonies to give a heartfelt speech about how much Model UN has meant to him throughout his life. And then, it was the moment everyone had been waiting for. Awards.

Delegation Awards were given out as follows:

Best Large – University of Chicago

Outstanding Large – Florida International University 

Best Small – American University

Outstanding Small – The George Washington University

American University after their Best Small Delegation award win

Individual Awards, by school, were given out as follows:

Belt and Road

Verbal – Emory

Verbal – Georgetown

Honorable – McGill

Honorable – University of Pennsylvania

Outstanding – Florida International University

Best – Michigan State University

Brexit

Verbal – American University

Verbal – University of Alabama

Honorable – Clark University

Outstanding – University of Chicago

Best – George Washington University

Pope Leo’s Cardinals

Verbal – University of Pennsylvania

Verbal – Florida International University

Honorable – McGill

Outstanding – Michigan State University

Best – Georgetown

Project Looking Glass

Verbal – University of Minnesota

Verbal – SUNY Geneseo

Honorable – George Washington University

Outstanding – McGill

Best – University of Chicago

Westphalia

Verbal – Columbia

Verbal – Georgetown

Honorable – NYU

Outstanding – Emory

Best – Princeton

Ohio Gang

Verbal – Florida International University

Verbal – Wellesley

Honorable – Seton Hall University

Outstanding – University of Chicago

Best – Indiana University

JCC Orthodox

Verbal – Fordham

Verbal – Ohio State University

Honorable – Indiana University

Outstanding – Florida International University

Best – University of Chicago

JCC Reformist

Verbal – Wheaton

Verbal – University of Chicago

Honorable – Clark University

Outstanding – Fordham

Best – Emory

Jefferson’s Cabinet

Verbal – George Washington University

Verbal – Indiana University

Honorable – American University

Outstanding – McGill

Best – University of Chicago

Pax Britannica

Verbal – McGill

Verbal – Harvard

Honorable – Florida International University

Outstanding – George Washington University

Best – American University

Ukrainian Missile Crisis

Verbal – Georgetown

Verbal – Harvard

Honorable – Alabama*

Honorable – University of Chicago*

Outstanding – American*

Best – Princeton*

*award information was given by an attending delegate, shout out to you

Facebook

Verbal – University of Chicago

Honorable – George Washington University

Outstanding – Indiana University

Best – University of Pennsylvania

CHOGM

Verbal – Harvard

Verbal – University of San Francisco

Verbal – Georgetown

Honorable – Fordham

Honorable – University of Chicago

Outstanding – Northeastern University

Best – Florida International University

Senado Federal

Verbal – Clark University

Verbal – Northeastern University

Verbal – McGill

Honorable – Georgetown

Honorable – American

Outstanding – Harvard

Best – University of Pennsylvania

Committee of 40

Verbal – Florida International University

Verbal – University of Pennsylvania

Honorable – Harvard

Outstanding – Indiana

Best – Emory

US Federal Land

Verbal – Emory

Verbal – Indiana

Verbal – Columbia

Honorable – University of San Francisco

Honorable – University of San Francisco (not a duplicate)

Outstanding – Florida International University

Best – American

Ad Hoc

Verbal – Middlebury

Verbal – Princeton

Honorable – Alabama

Outstanding – University of Chicago

Best – Harvard

Casey would also like to shoutout whoever found her water bottle and gave it to audiotorium staff that she left during closing ceremonies.

To read more about BarMUN XII click here to see the conference website. Thank you to the teams and delegates who participated in building this article with their comments, critiques, and photos. Also a thank you to BarMUN XII for providing delegation award information and quotes and statistics for the article. Congrats to all who competed in or staffed the conference!

Guest Article: Financing a Team

Article by Liliane Ventrone, MUN01 is very grateful for her contribution.

My name is Liliane Ventrone and I’m a junior at a small public school in the DMV area. I’m majoring in biological sciences, the president of our MUN team, and I work at a print shop and graphic design office on our campus. My interests in MUN have shifted from participating in the coolest committees, to being able to provide an educational, worthwhile Model UN experience to my students that I work with.

I call my university a STEM-heavy school. We’re known for our biology, engineering, and computer science departments. The social sciences, as well as arts, humanities, and anything else that falls into those categories, are much smaller departments, and consequently, less known to people outside of our university system. Another result of this is that our Model UN team is entirely student run, aside from one faculty advisor. Our coaches are students as well as handling all of the administrative processes, while sometimes participating in committees ourselves.

While this has built our leadership, money management, and conflict-resolution skills – we lack the advantage of having a full time staff or faculty member dedicated to the team, unlike other teams we have seen at competitions. Whether it be a faculty member coaching the team, or handling administrative and budgetary issues, students can only do so much. Students at other STEM-heavy schools that I have talked to have gone through similar situations as ours. This means that as student leaders, we are at the front lines of a lot of important processes, one of them being fundraising for our team – and a constant source of funds.

In the past, we have been criminally underfunded. I, personally, have had to pay for a lot of fees and I know a lot of other student leaders on my campus who have had to do the same. We’ve consistently had to stay off-site from the conference hotel – which we all know is where all of the after-hours committee work happens. At one point, we stayed in an Airbnb that one of my students complained of rat poop in her suitcase! I know that this is not just our school going to these lengths just to even get our students to conference in the first place. We’ve used shady bus services, stayed in shabby hotels, and have pretty much done everything on our end to cut the out-of-pocket costs that travel and accomodations bring.

Until there is an institutional change to provide funding for our schools, and at other STEM-heavy schools as well, we are stuck with this challenge of funding our teams to go to these expensive conferences. In my experience leading my Model UN team, I have gathered a few advice points that could be useful to other Model UN teams at STEM-heavy schools.

●     Bring your case to departments that your students belong to. Since our school has so many majors in STEM departments, we have approached the department chairs about providing some funding to the club based on membership in the major/department. Some departments may say no, but some might be willing to pitch in a couple hundred dollars. It may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, especially if you have a large team – but it adds up.

●  Continuously have smaller-scale fundraisers. For us, small-scale fundraisers like bake sales and restaurant nights do not make much money. However, in my time as president, recurring fundraisers like these build engagement among club members, as well as other students at your school.

Cut costs where you can – but not to the point where you’ll be residing in squalor. We have often stayed at off-site locations when we attend conferences, such as alternative hotels or AirBnB’s. However, when the logistical issues of your lodging start to impede on the conference experience, you have to find a balance. For example, for our New York conference we stayed in a cheap AirBnB – but one of my students found rat poop in her suitcase after!

●  Continuous crowdfunding. Having a gofundme open continuously has allowed us to collect donations throughout the academic year without putting in the effort of having many fundraisers. We’ve also found CustomInk’s crowdfunding feature – which allows you to sell merchandise and have the profits go to your team. Both of these have helped keep up the smaller expenses of our club, such as marketing materials and our website.

●   Reach out to team alumni, as well as parents/family members of club members. If your team has been around for a long time like ours (25 years this year!) there is a good chance that some of the alumni from your team will want to help out in some way or another. We have alum staffing our high school conference, as well as reaching out to their networks to help spread the word. Parents of students will also sometimes want to help out – which is great for those GoFundMe’s. My mom has our team shirt!

These are tips that I have picked up personally as I have been president of my Model UN team – every team has different dynamics and these will not be one size fits all. However, a lot of teams feel the struggle of lack of funding, and I want to be able to contribute what has helped us to be able to help other struggling teams like us.

Debate Dos and Don’ts

So you have returned to learn more about what I think you should not do in order to be successful in MUN. In this saucy little article, we will be discussing debate. Debate is truly the heart of Model UN. Crisis is very much secondary, for a good arc does not an award make. Your chair will only see your debate and only hear your arc secondhand. While you may influence a room behind the scenes in crisis, the real way to show prowess as a delegate is to debate eloquently and frequently. That’s not even to mention the fact that GA committees exist and debate is your only option. Here are some tips and tricks we at MUN01 would recommend to hone in on your debate skills to really drive your award potential home.

Do: Plan out an opening speech

This is especially important in GAs, but if your crisis room does a round robin to start committee, it’s basically the same thing. Know what you are going to say. First impressions absolutely matter and will set the tone for how you will be seen as a delegate. Don’t risk the possibility of stammering over your words and looking unprepared. Have your talking points based around your research and give a succinct speech which portrays the kind of delegate you would like to be seen as, be it aggressive, cooperative, knowledgeable, relatable, etc. Establish your brand in your opening speech, it’s important.

Don’t: Read a speech verbatim off paper

This is a big novice move in crisis committees. GAs are different and very often call for major written speeches. GA dels, write on and read those speeches with the power of a major world leader, loves ya. However, in crisis, this comes across as you being unable to think on your feet. Crisis is fast paced, and if you can only give major points in debate if you are writing down a speech beforehand, you need to practice. This is not shade! On-the-fly speaking come with time and experience. Wean yourself off of reading your speeches by limiting yourself to one or two word talking points, just so you can direct yourself.

Do: Stand by your position

You are here to represent a person or a country with defined beliefs and policies. Don’t let people sway you off of that. There are powerful and persuasive debaters out there who will try to change your mind and push you off position just to discredit you later. Don’t fall into those tactics. Stay to course and recognize that you are just as capable as them. Tip: if someone is being particularly aggressive in debate, odds are other people feel uncomfortable too. Band together and support one another, y’all can succeed I promise. 

Don’t: Yell

Omg. I have to go off on this one. DO NOT YELL IN COMMITTEE. If its a particularly heated speech and your volume increases once or twice, ok, sure. But yelling? Unnecessary. If you have to yell to have your point heard you are a weak debater. Its an intimidation tactic that needs to stop and it makes everyone else uncomfortable (and also gives people headaches). The root of Model UN is diplomacy and screaming at people is clearly not that. Please, be civil, speak in an appropriate tone.

Some others-

Do: Read the committee about standing for speeches, crisis is typically no and GA is sometimes yes

Don’t: Propose a one minute speaking time

Do: Only use the speaking time you need, don’t stretch speeches to the full time if not necessary

Don’t: Roll your eyes if the chair doesn’t call on you

Do: Avoid um’s and uhh’s. Pause to collect your thoughts instead.

Don’t: Waste a speech to speak off topic. Pay attention to what others are saying and don’t go off topic

Do: Speak often! As much as possible!

Don’t: Cross talk or interrupt. So rude and also against parli pro.

These are just some general tips, we are hoping to come out with a comprehensive debate guide soon. Til then, I hope this helps. Have fun, debate hard, and remember: don’t yell.