Whitman’s Model United Nations Club Wins Big

River Sterne

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Despite low numbers, the Whitman College Model United Nations Club is winning big awards. The club, consisting of 12 active members, travels around the Pacific Northwest, and occasionally to the East Coast and Canada, to attend UN simulations with other colleges.

The Model UN team, led by sophomore club president Katy Wills, recently attended the National Model United Nations conference and won two substantial awards: Delegate’s Choice Award and Outstanding Delegation. The NMUN conference took place Oct. 25 through 27 in Washington D.C.

“Delegate’s Choice Award is chosen by the other delegates,” said sophomore Julia Wood. “They just vote for whatever delegation they think did the best job. Outstanding Delegation is the highest award you can win, [and] that’s chosen by the people who are running the conference.”

The club sent three members to the conference, making them the smallest delegation there. Despite their small numbers, they beat out many teams of over 40 students to win the awards they did.

“Julia [Wood] and I won Delegate’s Choice Award,” said sophomore Nick Hochfeld. “This means we were the most diplomatic and easiest to work with and brought the most people together.”

Whitman Model UN was also successful in the conferences they attended last year, winning Delegate’s Choice at a conference in Seattle.

“It was cool last year because most of us were just freshmen and we didn’t really know totally what we were doing,” said Hochfeld. The team will attend another conference in Seattle in several weeks.

The team has grown slightly bigger this year, with 12 active members currently as opposed to last year’s eight.

“I think part of the reason it’s small is that it’s an academic club,” said Wills. “We sit around and talk about foreign affairs, and then we do research and write papers about a country’s position on topics and then debate them.”

Wills suggested that students may be hesitant to join Model UN because it requires intensive research and work outside of school.

“While it is fun, it draws a particular crowd of people that aren’t really turned off by doing some research outside of class,” said Wills.

The club also serves as an outlet for expression among students who are passionate about politics and want experience in diplomacy.

“Model UN is important at Whitman because it gives students an opportunity to get outside of the bubble both physically and mentally,” said Wills. “You throw yourself into embodying an actual diplomat from another country, so you have to get out of your Whitman mindset.”

For each conference, Wills and the team research a topic they are given and write a paper on that topic in preparation. These issues can range anywhere from urban development to the role of women in global societies.

“We go to conferences and debate about issues that are pretty pertinent to our modern global society,” said Wood.

Participants are assigned a country and a committee when they attend conferences. They then spend three five-hour sessions discussing and working through the topic they have been assigned with their appropriate conference.

“You’re assigned a country and you’re assigned a committee, and in the committee there will be three topics on the agenda for the whole conference,” said Wills. “In the first committee meeting you set the agenda and debate with other delegates about what topic you want to discuss first; it’s tough because you end up researching each of the three topics, but you only get to discuss one of them.”

Model UN provides students a way to gain political experience and enjoy themselves simultaneously.

“We’re just a group of kids who think it’s fun to pretend to be the United Nations,” said Wood.

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