500 Delegates Attend First RHSMUN Conference Held in San Francisco

by Ryan on December 5, 2011

Huntington Beach High School received the Best Delegation award

Over 500 delegates from nearly 30 schools attended this week’s Regional High School Model United Nations Conference (RHSMUN) in San Francisco.

Most schools came from California, including Northern California schools such as Gunn, Lynbrook, and Albany High School, and Southern California schools such as Mira Costa, Huntington Beach, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Tustin, and Mission Viejo High School. The conference also attracted schools from throughout North America, including Colegio Hebrero Tarbut from Mexico, St. George’s Senior High School from Canada, and Kealakehe High School from Hawaii. RHSMUN was the first Model UN conference for several schools, including the International Studies Academy from San Francisco and Sugar Bowl Academy from Lake Tahoe.

RHSMUN featured seven committees: DISEC, SOCHUM, SPECPOL, Legal, UNEP, Security Council, and a Summit of the G-20. Several of the topics featured an environmental theme, such as “The Legal Status of Environmental Refugees,” “Forest Conflict in Southeast Asia,” and Global Threat of Harmful Substances and Hazardous Wastes.” The Security Council and G-20 featured a late-night crisis on Friday morning, calling their delegates out of their hotel rooms at 2 AM in order to deal with situations in the Philippines and Bangladesh (advisors were notified ahead of time).

This was RHSMUN’s first year in San Francisco after being held in Salt Lake City for more than a decade. According to RHSMUN Secretary-General Molly Williams, the conference relocated in order to attract more schools and impact more students. The number of delegates attending RHSMUN increased from about 400 last year to 500 this year. This was also the first international RHSMUN, being the first time that schools outside the United States have attended. The conference was held in the Parc 55 Hotel, located in downtown San Francisco and close to Union Square.

RHSMUN is a conference of the International Model United Nations Association (IMUNA), the non-profit organization that also hosts NHSMUN in New York City and SUSMUN in Atlanta. IMUNA draws college students from around the country to staff its conferences, particularly those who attended them as high school students. Many of the RHSMUN staff came from the Western region of the United States, particularly California schools such as UC Berkeley, UC Davis, San Jose State University, USC, UCI, and UCSD, as well as the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado College, the University of Utah, and Lewis & Clark College.

RHSMUN only gave delegation awards, which went to:

  • Best Delegation: Huntington Beach High School (Huntington Beach, California)
  • Outstanding Delegation: Mira Costa High School (Manhattan Beach, California)
  • Award of Distinction: Cerritos High School (Cerritos, California)
  • Outstanding Conference Research and Preparation: Kealakehe High School (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)

Click here to see video and pictures of the conference!

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  • Anonymous

    An Advisors opinion:
    Location B+ /A- , Hotel A-, Cost for fees B/B-
    Opening ceremonies C+, staff speeches typical welcome to RHSMUN et al. Speaker was good and did not speak over the heads of the students or have lengthy Q & A repartee. Then typical 1 hour delay for rooms to be setup after opening ceremonies.
    Committees B
    Seven committees from plus 100 DISEC, SOCHUM, SPECPOL, to 65 6th legal, 50 ish UNEP, G20 single delegate and then pairs in SC .
    Procedurally chairs were good usually with exceptions below. Topic knowledge was very good and the synopsis were original for the most part. Our delegates took note and prepared accordingly. Thought this was a big highlight. However just because one can write a paper does not mean one can always take charge of a group of teenagers.
    After the usual adviser meeting a big question remained, would the secretariat take our concerns seriously versus the usual lip service and short term institutional memory advisors from many conferences . Especially the chair issues, which the director of committees seemed to give many of us an impression that she believed her chairs more than she believed field reports. Spec Pol was the most egregious offender. The litany for him alone are the following, a promise to have committee do karaoke, dumb blonde jokes, name games, forgetting the roll call sheet to start the second session, name game speeches and songs in speeches. Sochum just seemed overwhelmed at times with the number of kids and one school was still upset with the chairs outburst. 6th Legal stated competently but what startled several delegates how much the chair said he hated MUN and RHSMUN couldn’t be over soon enough. There was a G 20 press conference which confused many and seemed to be a flash in the pan idea. Sadly it seemed to follow the litany of silly MUN college circuit gimmicks. To the idea is Q&A the G20 , got it. Reading the document took more time than the Q&A, everyone there is literate and should have had copies they can work of to generate questions. The accents foreign / regional of the “reporters” hurt credibility in the eyes of most advisors, it seemed silly college MUN games. Why not just ask good hard questions as one would face in a small group seminar at any quality university ?
    After the usual adviser meeting a big question remained, would the secretariat take our concerns seriously versus the usual lip service and short term institutional memory advisors from many conferences . Post conference it seems we got more promises than action on our concerns. As usual these concerns are solicited but given more than little lip service once concluded. Technology, after the adviser meeting and into the next day many of the schools were saying that one way or another this is coming and will not go away. RHSMUN could test and define and lead on what is acceptable and works for all. If high school / college campuses / business conferences can wifi themselves for thousands so can MUN conferences. Informational uses of computers / Ipads in committee can be of great benefit. Cutting all stalks of corn low serves no purpose. Ipads are starting at 450.00, Kindle Fire is 200.00. It is affordable, user friendly and improving all the time. Technology will not only streamline MUN but most importantly keep it in the field of reality which is what the intended purpose of Model League of Nations in 1922 was to do and Model UN is to do. Students, schools, programs who are out of policy not only embrace ignorance but it is ignorant distain to real world problems and people not to know what is actually happening in the world. Technology in committee for informational purposes alone would diminish this sad part of current High school MUN. College MUN is worse than the high schools. BTW I would hope that just because a secretariat member doesn’t have a modern phone doesn’t mean that one personal anecdote invalidates a proposal to the opportunity / benefit of all. Technology side note, the conference had 1 copier available for resolutions. It of course died during the 3rd session. Resolution distribution and discussion came to an abrupt stand still.
    Awards B
    Traditional for most conferences issue, would be transparency on awards. For example did the number of delegates a school brought increase or diminish chances for recognition ? Was it by delegation ? Is there an awards matrix ? Why is it not available for schools to use ? How were chairs involved in the process and how is the final decision made, by who ? What is the matrix for a research award ? How is this decided ? Was there a plagiarism check ? Many schools are certain that they brought to many kids and thus were hurt by numbers not by effort for recognition. Bigger schools brought strong numbers of their youngest delegates to provide experience. If teams are hurt by size then they will just bring small delegations. Then tell others to do the same. MUN awards everywhere have a history of poor transparency and accountability, hiding behind subjectivity. Clarifying these things sets the accountability bar high for other conferences to follow. An explanation of types of awards is not transparency as to how these things are decided. However, the team concept of awards is very good and increases the ability of schools / delegations to work together vs cutthroat , real policy and topic knowledge is for fools, win at all costs MUN . This alone holds a lot of promise if the conference can expand.
    Overall, as we travel nationally and internationally, we will recommend this conference to many we see with these concerns and praises. The site was great, the general vision of IMUNA / RHSMUN is a step above the usual college ran conference. RHSMUN has the potential to grow into what its name implies a Regional conference that attracts the best schools to compete AND learn about the world , politics, speaking, networking, diplomacy, appropriate competition and reality. These ideals are what I think and have come to know, that make MUN potentially so much better than any other form of debate.
    R Timberlake MCHS MUNs

  • Anonymous

    Another Advisor’s Take:

    This was my first time at RHSMUN and I was very impressed by the creativity and quality of the committees that I had students in. Many of my students were new to MUN (we’re from a small school and most of our team recently graduated), but all felt ready and enthused to participate. I was particularly impressed by the willingness of staff to communicate with advisors. In all my years involved with MUN, never have I had so many Chairs or Co-Chairs talk to me about the flow of committee and what my students were doing. My students were pleased with their experiences and most felt that their Chairs and Co-Chairs were engaged and responsive to their concerns, something which I cannot say for many other conferences we have attended in the state. Though I wish the working paper/draft resolution process had been streamlined, I was pleased to see Chairs paying attention to their students and not buried behind their laptop screens checking Twitter. Our experience with the hotel was passable but not stellar. This aside, the substantive experience that my students had last week will ensure my return to the conference next year. I wish the conference the best of luck and hope that it will remain in San Francisco for many years to come!

  • Kelvin Zhu

    RHSMUN was a pretty average conference, but for me it was absolutely abysmal. My chair, Bonnie Pham, did NOT know the rules at all, and I made bunch of Points of Orders throughout the first session which she kept overruling with her “chair’s discretion” rule. She even voted on a motion right after it was received when there were points and motions on the floor! I’m pointing all of these out, and I’m only a 9th grader with a year’s worth of 7 conferences’ experience. She made the entire experience suck for me, and I ended up literally reading a book for the last two sessions. It was even worse considering we spent more than $1000 going and I was put in a beginner committee with a completely unqualified and incompetent dais.

    Overall, I don’t recommend anyone to go, and considering my chair has staffed with NHSMUN for three years, I won’t be going there either. Next year, it’s MUNUC for me.

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