The Model United Nations of the University of Chicago (MUNUC) 2014 welcomed 2500 delegates and 230 staff from throughout the Midwest, the United States, China, and beyond to the historically beautiful Palmer House Hilton in Chicago this past weekend. MUNUC is the largest conference in the Midwest, and advisors continued to praise the conference for setting the standard for academic rigor and fostering an educational environment for high school conferences. Advisors cited four examples that really emphasize MUNUC’s academic and educational focus.
1. Lengthy background guides. Advisors appreciated the 70-page background guides as it encouraged students to read and do rigorous research instead of spending time on their electronic devices and doing simple searches on Wikipedia. Educators cited how at the end of the day, their job at their schools is to help improve the students’ literacy skills and lengthy background guides help them achieve this goal.
2. Facilitating an educational environment. Advisors praised MUNUC for continuing to emphasize that electronic devices and pre-written resolutions are not allowed in committee. This causes students to bring more books or printed research to committee and to actually collaborate during the conference instead of competing for resolution authorship. The unmoderated caucus environment at MUNUC is significantly more cordial than at conferences of similar size. Also, Chairs would continually encourage delegates who have not spoken yet to raise their placards.
3. Explanation of complex concepts. Chairs would suspend the rules of procedure, particularly on the first day of committee, to explain complex concepts or terms that delegates seemed to be throwing around at the beginning of committee. This sets the tone that students should not be “BS-ing” and gives a better understanding of which solutions are realistic. It also allows a better academic understanding of the concepts as opposed to a surface-level one.
4. Book Awards and no Best Delegates. MUNUC’s awards policy is to “create a learning environment for all delegates and not a competitive stage for a few.” MUNUC gives out Verbal Commendations, Honorable Mentions, and Outstanding Awards. In the largest committees, there are multiple Outstanding awards given. There is no Best Delegate. The delegates who are given Outstanding awards are given a book selected by the chairs that corresponds with the topic that was debated on that weekend instead of a gavel. This is a nice touch to MUNUC’s academic focus. Furthermore, there are no delegation or school awards. Overall, the awards system reflect’s MUNUC’s emphasis on fostering an educational environment and continuous academic learning after the conference is over.
MUNUC Opening Ceremonies coincided with the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, so the keynote speaker Ian Solomon asked, “What can you do to be a gold medal global citizen?” Delegates participated in a variety of 26 committees throughout the weekend. Delegates also enjoyed several University of Chicago admissions information sessions made by admissions officers, delivering both heartwarming and hilarious Gavel Grams to each other, the delegate dance, and exploring the exciting city of Chicago.
Personally, it was also nice to see many alumni from the Best Delegate Model UN Summer Programs at MUNUC. In fact, MUNUC had the most diversity among Summer Programs alumni as we had students from our programs at Georgetown, Florida, Berkeley, and UCLA participating at this conference. In addition, it was great seeing Best Delegate Media Manager and Summer Programs counselor Jullian Bao now chairing at MUNUC.
Here are some photos from the conference. More photos can be found on the Best Delegate Facebook page!
MUNUC Secretary-General Parker DeRensis encouraged delegates to take this viewpoint on the purpose of Closing Ceremonies: “Let this be the beginning of your drive to become a better person.”
Congratulations to all the delegates, teachers, and staff on a successful MUNUC 2014! Thank you to Secretary-General Parker DeRensis for having me visit. The MUNUC Photo Album can be found here!