At the end of this month, Macalester’s Model United Nations (MUN) team will be participating in Conference B of the annual National MUN (NMUN) conference.
NMUN is a Model UN conference for colleges all around the world and hosts approximately 2,000 students each year. This conference takes place in New York and gives students the opportunity to get a sense of the United Nations experience by mimicking the organization’s setup. This five-day conference will commence on the 27th of March and run till the 31st, when the team will get the chance to enter the UN headquarters building for the closing ceremony.
The conference is divided into multiple committees, such as U.N. Habitat, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and multiple General Assemblies — just as the U.N. is organized. These committees can be as large as several hundred delegates.
Each year, MacMUN represents a certain nation. This year, they will be representing the nation of Uruguay in ten committees. On the first day, students will get the opportunity to share their stances on the three given issues from the perspective of Uruguay. Each committee has three topics on the table, and the speeches on these topics, given on the first day, determine which topics are deemed most important by the majority of the committee.
In subsequent days, students will separate into smaller groups with their respective ally nations and merge their resolutions with those of other delegations in their respective blocs. This gives students the chance to meet and collaborate with other college students of different backgrounds.
Jake Speirs ’16, a member of the MacMUN team, will be attending his third NMUN conference this year. He recalls, “I still keep in touch with people that I met two or three years ago in a committee. My favorite memories are just making those connections and having this shared experience.”
This year, Speirs will be a part of a double delegation and represent the interests of Uruguay with a second member of the MacMUN team. They will be approaching the issues of weapon trafficking and weapon regulations in the Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (POASALW) committee.
All board members, in addition to their specific roles, are in charge of choosing new members by conducting and creating a selection process in the fall. Members are as follows: Lia Hansen ‘16, Secretary General; Daniel Swanson-Nystrom ‘16, Director General; Jhader Aguad ‘17, Director of Finance; and Bram Wang ‘18, Director of Communications.
Hansen, alongside her board members, is in charge of all the preparation in getting the team to New York. She has been communicating with the NMUN organizing team, setting and working with a budget and is the MacMUN liaison to the campus in general. She was also in charge of sending in preference forms in order to give the members of her team the committee of their choice.
Since both Hansen and Speirs will be graduating this May, this will be their last NMUN conference with the team. They are now applying for higher positions in the committee. Hansen served as a rapporteur for one of her conferences and hopes to direct the conference this year as a chair. Speirs has applied to participate this year as a rapporteur instead of a direct delegate. This being his last year, he hopes for “a change in experience and [to] see the whole MUN process from a different angle.”
The team meets once a week to go over logistics and work on developing speech and writing skills. They also participate in practice debates in preparation for this conference. Members are encouraged to take part in the Twin Cities mock conference with other liberal arts college in the area that will also be participating in NMUN. This year, Hamline University hosted this Twin Cities conference. With students from Hamline University and Augsburg College, the MacMUN team practiced speech and debate protocols and got to experience a trial run of a Model UN conference similar to that of the NMUN conference.
In return for all their hard work, the MacMUN team often receives delegation awards. Awards from past years include several Outstanding Position Paper and Distinguished/Outstanding Delegation awards and an Honorable Mention. With seven new and seven returning delegates, high hopes are held for this year’s conference.