Students at UM recently got the opportunity to debate current international issues and discuss possible solutions at the first-ever Model UN conference on campus. The event was hosted by the new UM Model United Nations [UM MUN] club, whose goal is to promote awareness for and embrace the values of the UN.
According to Andrea Echavarria, president of the UM MUN club, there was previously no organization providing awareness for the UN on campus.
“We want to provide an academic space for debate, to help others develop better communication and leadership skills,” Echavarria said.
Other officers of the club agree.
“A lot of people don’t even know how the UN works,” Federico Cuadra, secretary of UM MUN club, said. “We’re here to show people its role in the world,”
One of the primary goals of the club is to participate as a team in the numerous MUN competitions held throughout the U.S., in which delegates from universities represent various countries that are part of the UN.
During the recent conference at UM, competitors debated over weapons of mass destruction and the role of illegal actors in Latin America. They attempted to create resolutions to solve some controversial problems. Participants in the conference included seasoned competitors as well as many new faces.
“This is a great opportunity to learn from my peers, whose different backgrounds allow them to tackle issues in different ways,” Brenda Morales, freshman and first-time MUN participant, said.
“This is a very good step toward the creation of a culture of discussion among students about global issues,” Flavio Angulo, graduate student in Latin American studies, said. “The most important thing is that younger students continue MUN and represent UM in national competitions.”
While it has not been established until now on this campus, Model UN teams are very prevalent at the high school and university levels, both nationally and internationally.
Florida International University and Harvard University are among the schools that have highly-recognized MUN teams.
Thus far, UM’s only involvement in the MUN competitions has been through the political science department, which, for the past two years, has been sending a team to the New York conference.
Many students at UM have participated in MUN in the past.
One student, who participated in MUN in Tanzania, is very enthusiastic about the new MUN team at UM.
“This is really great news,” Nitin Aggarwal, freshman, said. “University-level MUN is going to be so great.”
The MUN club has the support of COISO, the umbrella organization for international clubs, as well as the Political Science and International Studies departments.
The club hopes to bring in speakers on various international topics, and they encourage anyone interested to attend.
In April, UM will take a competitive team of 15 students to the New York conference, the biggest conference in the U.S. and one of the biggest MUN international events.
“We want to do well in competition,” Echavarria said. “We want to get the UM name out there.”
Approximately 4,000 students are expected to participate in the five-day conference, with competitors from all over the world.
“We want to create prestige for UM, to show everyone that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Cuadra said. “A lot of people know that UM is a top football school, but what people don’t realize is that we are also a top International Studies school.”
For more information about UM MUN, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Ferre Building 329.
Megha Garg can be reached at email@example.com.