Learning to debate and negotiate can be essential skills that students develop during their time at university. This past weekend, delegates from PSU’s Model United Nations (MUN) club were able to practice these skills during the 60th annual Midwest Model United Nations conference.
The club traveled to St. Louis, Mo. for the conference that took place from Feb. 19 through Feb. 22.
“The purpose of the institution (Model UN) is to discuss world politics and to find a medium to communicate your opinion,” said MUN president and sophomore in political science, Marlon Merida. “Model United Nations is a simulation of the United Nations conference where students are tasked with solving global issues through research, drafting, lobbying, and debate to pass a suitable resolution which all countries agree upon.”
This was the club’s fifth year attending the conference and this year, Pitt State’s club represented The People’s Republic of China. The country was chosen by a lottery system, where the first universities to get chosen were able to choose the country they wanted to represent as they got picked.
“They draw schools and based on look, it’s a placement…,” Merida said. “If you’re one of the first people to be chosen you get the first pick to choose what country.”
Four delegates from PSU attended the conference. Merida’s committee as security council, and the remaining delegates were part of the general assembly. In each committee, the countries had to pass resolutions on each issue.
“In each committee… all the countries, all the students from different universities…come together during this committee and discuss world problems,” Merida said. “…they have to come with solutions, and everyone has to agree on…a resolution. Within this resolution the issues are addressed, and solutions are made. All countries must pass it, and once it’s passed it goes on to the chair, then we all vote on this document, then in the real world that resolution goes on and it put forth into reality.”
The security council had three topics to cover including cyber terrorism, the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and dealing with civilians during peacekeeping times. The first day of the conference, after an introduction of each topic the nations vote on which topics to discuss. The topic was then moved to the floor and discussed.
“If on day two, there hasn’t been a resolution done in regard to that topic then it’s moves on to day three,” Merida said. “So, there isn’t a deadline for each resolution to be passed. So, this year we managed to pass two topics and a crisis…”
MUN advisor and PSU instructor of political science Adam Bilinski attended the conference with the student delegates. Bilinski thought the club performed well at the conference.
“I think they did really good,” Bilinski said. “They put a lot of effort to prepare, and they represented Chinese interests quite well… I was happy about their performance.”
MUN member and senior in communication Braidon Brannon attended the conference to help “bolster (his) resume,” and said he learned a lot at the conference.
“I learned a lot about parliamentary debate, UN procedure, and a lot about the international community and the way they interact when at conferences like this,” Brannon said.
Merida believes attending the conference is important as it can help students develop their professional and speaking skills.
“If you’re not a natural public speaker, the more you participate and are exposed to public speaking- you’ll lose that shyness,” Merida said. “You’ll learn negotiating, you’ll learn a lot of valuable skills that can be put forth in the workforce.”
Bilinski also thinks attending the conference can be a positive opportunity for students.
“It’s a great opportunity for students, I encourage if you’re interested in Model UN club to join us and go for the conference in a year…because you can practice your debating skills, your negotiating skills… and you can network with other students, and you can have some fun…,” Bilinski said.
Students interested in joining the PSU’s Model United Nations club can contact Merida at email@example.com or visit their Facebook page @psumun2020.