Should a JCC Be More Than Two Rooms?

An Article by Casey

If you’ve read the article previously published on JCCs (you can read it here if you haven’t), you’ll recall the small side note that JCCs aren’t always just two committees. Certainly a two committee JCC is the norm/default/expected format when JCCs are mentioned. However, JCCs with three, four, five, or more committees are on the rise within the North American collegiate circuit. There seems to almost be a competition amongst conferences to see who can create the most intricate JCC with the most amount of rooms. Conferences will boast about the size of their JCCs and tout how many rooms are operating within the same universe. This brings us to the main question of this article: Should a JCC be more than two rooms?

Before answering the question, I’d like to share a little bit about my experience in JCCs. I’ve been in three different JCCs in my time in collegiate Model UN. Two have been typical, two committee room JCCs while one was a “JCC” with around five committees. I think of myself as a sort of JCC connoisseur. While it may not seem like a ton of experience within JCCs, they’ve made up half of the committees I’ve been in. With this new year on the circuit, I’m expecting to be a part of them even more. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the committee structure. I’ve found a lot of my MUN success within them, but there are certain aspects of a JCC, two committees or more, that drive me crazy. I’ll probably do an article later down the line about those.  

In my opinion, the focus of a JCC should be the interaction between the two committee rooms. That aspect is what makes that type of committee special. The very thing that makes a JCC unique is the fact that the actions of one room affect the other. You are not only battling against crisis but also another room full of delegates who may be just as cutthroat as you are. The best JCC I’ve ever been in successfully balanced crises that were concocted by the crisis room with crises that were caused by the opposing room. It truly felt like we had an opposition against us, rather than just a hypothetical opposing room that was supposed to be affecting our committee. Maybe some of this is due to delegates, but I think that the majority of this success was from the crisis staff and the fact that they didn’t have to balance more than two rooms.  

Herein lies my problem with JCCs that are more than two committee rooms: By increasing committee rooms, conferences are not increasing the element of interaction between the committees. In fact, most of the time these unwieldy behemoths of committees are “JCCs” in name only rather than experience. Let’s be honest with ourselves, JCCs that have five different committee rooms are not actually going to be really impacting each other. For instance, if the committee rooms are all different countries, it’s not expected that every single room is going to interact with every other country. What really happens is that they may interact with one other room. However, half the time the crisis team is so eager to utilize all committee rooms against each other that they’ll throw random updates and crises at committee rooms that are completely irrelevant to debate and delegate’s individual crisis arcs. What ensues is delegates being confused, distracted by many different crisis arcs they’re not sure relate to their room, and lacking a feeling of actual connection to the storyline of the committees.

Let’s be honest, JCCs are a lot of work! This is especially true for the crisis team who is trying to balance crises within rooms as well as crises that the opposing room is creating for them. A skilled team should be able to do this successfully for a typical, two committee JCC. Asking a team of staffers to handle more than that is just a recipe for confusion. Notes start to slow down, crisis arcs are forgotten, delegates are annoyed that their individual arcs seem to be lost among the other 50+ delegates who are all competing to shine. By keeping JCCs to a two room structure, you can improve the crisis experience for everybody–staffers and delegates. 

So here’s my advice–prioritize the interaction between the committee rooms. If you can’t maintain the feeling for delegates that they are truly in a hyperdynamic multi-committee world while ensuring that they aren’t overwhelmed and lost, then abandon the idea of doing a multi-committee JCC. Delegates will appreciate a well run, typical JCC better than a mess of a multi-committee JCC.

So my opinion, very typically, is that JCCs should not be more than two rooms. Have conferences done multi-committee JCCs well before? Yes. However, those have been JCCs that are three committees, not the spidering behemoths of a five committee JCC. Keep your conference expectations realistic. If you think your crisis team is strong, demonstrate that by providing an unforgettable two-committee JCC experience to the delegates attending your conference. 

The Power Delegate Conundrum

Hello, it’s Kyla speaking! We typically publish everything under the general MUN01 author name but for op-eds we decided we would go ahead and tag them by each of us. We will do the same thing for guest articles. Anyway, this is the first “opinion” piece that we will be publishing, so here goes nothing. I’d like to note that everything I say herein is my opinion and is not intended to cause any raucous feedback of how I don’t know what I’m talking about (though that may be true). I hope it’s entertaining and maybe will engender some pensive contemplation on your part, which is arguably the most pretentious thing I’ve ever said. On that note, let us begin.

Here’s the thing about power dels: we love to hate them. Why is that? They are powerful for a reason of course, often sweeping the room and guaranteeing themselves a place in the top three if not for sure the best del award. In theory, they are the delegates we should look up to and model our own debate, crisis, in-room actions, and styles off of. But in the real world of the circuit, or at least the one I participated in, it was typically used as an insult. The phrase “Oh, he is such a power del” was often coupled with an eye roll and a chorus of groans from anyone in the area. “So annoying”, “I can’t stand them”, so on and so forth. I myself have made these comments on many, many occasions. But in reflection isn’t that really weird?

We all want to be a power del, which is maybe where the issue lies. Is it jealousy? I think it may have been for me. As a moderately successful delegate (depending on your definition, I guess. Looking at you, kid with like 20 gavels from a school I can’t remember), I hate nothing more than being out-played. I am incredibly competitive, as I am sure most of you are as well. MUN tends to attract that type, well, unless you are a very kind GA delegate that really works off of cooperation and if so I value you don’t let the hyper-competitive kids get ya down. Anyway, I get super frustrated when I see someone running the room and completely swaying the movements of committee, but mostly because I wish it was me. It’s really hard to be self reflective while in the moment and take notes on why other people are succeeding. It’s far easier to just write them off as annoying and undeserving, though it’s very clear there are definitive reasons they are doing better than others.

However, I don’t think that’s really it, or at least all of it. I think there is a certain vibe that power dels put off that classifies them as such rather than just being seen as any other successful delegates. A bit of aggression, sly tactics, kissing up to the chair, quick to force their directives to the forefront and move the narrative regardless of what others may want; power delegates really do a number on other people’s morale in the stereotyped version. However, I do these things too. I think most of us do. We are all guilty of trying to finesse, and many of us (read: me) are guilty of being a bit, um, aggressive or cold when debating. 

Now, there is a big difference between being an ass in committee and being assertive or dominant. But I don’t think that many of those that fall into the former category are really all that successful. Therefore, are they even power dels? I feel like the term power del has shifted from describing someone who is successfully running a room to describing those who try to run a room in an assertive way and fail, making the experience worse for the rest of us. In my mind, though, that’s the weakest form of delegate. And there lies the conundrum of the power delegate, equally symbolizing good and bad delegates.

I’m not here to incite some revolution over the use of the term. I’m sure going to continue to use it in both a positive and negative way, because I do really think it has bits of both in the name. Here’s to the power dels and those of us who wish to be them, down with the weak dels that take on a power del facade to intimidate others, and long live the ridiculous complexities of MUN slang.