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.