Role Models: Student-Run Model U.N. Org Champions Human Rights and Competitions
Tackling environmental sustainability, regional security and diplomacy is not usually how a typical high school student spends their free time, but such is the case for participants of UC San Diego’s student-run Triton Model United Nations (MUN) conference. The 19th bi-annual conference was held on April 27 and 28 at the Sheraton La Jolla as well as the UC San Diego campus, and brought together 400 high school participants from the surrounding San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties. Members of UC San Diego’s MUN team worked as chairs for committees, where they enforced the rules of procedure and oversaw the progression of debate within a committee.
An International House and completely student-run organization, the UC San Diego MUN is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies where students perform an ambassador role while debating topics such as gender equality, climate action, global health and more. Members of the student organization also get to travel around world to attend conferences or host them, as the group did with the most recent bi-annual conference.
Hosting a conference is no easy task for members and requires months of preparation, including coordination with high schools. Students compile all the information into a packet – location, dates, times, committee types and requirements – and email it to schools that have expressed interest or attended in the past.
“Because we are a totally student-run organization, it is up to us to arrange everything for these conferences,” said Brockton Lundy, Under-Secretary General of Public Relations for UC San Diego’s MUN team. “From deciding the committee types and the topics for participants to researching and arranging location, there are a lot of logistical factors.”
The committees are divided into three categories: General Assembly, Specialized Body and Crisis. The general assembly is meant to embody actual UN bodies like UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and World Health Organization (WHO). MUN committees can be divided into three general sessions: formal debate, moderated caucus, and unmoderated caucus. Participants act as delegates to assigned countries and debate proposed solutions to issues posed by the committee chairs.
From Canada, to Japan Model, participants get to see the world for which they are advocating
This year, the student organization has competed in four conferences and have earned awards at each and every one, including at McGill University’s conference in Montreal, Canada which is the second-most prestigious conference in the world. In certain comnferences, they have even outperformed competitors from UCLA and UC Berkeley, leading to a new relationship with Alba Martinez, a former Implementation Manager for the United Nations Association who now staffs an MUN conference in Japan. She previously made her applicant pool focused on students from UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Stanford, but recently expanded her efforts to recruit from UC San Diego as well. “This relationship is important and exciting to us because it’s another incentive to get students involved with our club,” said Lundy. “A lot of our members will be get to travel to Japan to work as committee chairs in her Pacific Rim MUN conference.”
Building Resumes, making friends and perfecting public speaking
Lundy joined MUN last year when he transferred to UC San Diego as a political science major and wanted to get involved on campus and make new friends, all while learning more about domestic and international politics. “There is really no formal process in becoming involved with MUN other than coming to meetings, which are hosted twice a week,” he said. “We are a very welcoming organization. In the meetings, the club host simulations of UN bodies and training exercises to help delegates become better public speakers, researchers and debaters.”
Members of UC San Diego’s MUN team can work to staff their home conference, TritonMUN, as well as travel to other conferences to participate as delegates, where they are assigned a country to research their policy on a specific topic, write speeches and debate on resolutions and amendments.
“Model United Nations is one of the best organizations on campus for resume building, public speaking and leadership skills.” said Lundy. “The UN has a goal of creating global change through local leaders and believe we promote this goal.”For more information about the UC San Diego MUN team, click here