Stuyvesant Model United Nations Hosts MiniMUNC
Issue 7, Volume 112
What do England 1066: William the Conqueror’s Court, the NYC 2050 Fiscal Crisis, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have in common? All of these topics were committees for Stuyvesant’s 2021 mini Model United Nations Conference (MiniMUNC) hosted by Stuyvesant’s Model United Nations Team (StuyMUN) on November 16, as StuyMUN’s first in-person conference since the onset of the pandemic. There were 150 students from Stuyvesant and six other high schools who participated in the conference.
Derived from the United Nations (UN), Model UN simulates the United Nations General Assembly, where the world’s nations gather to discuss common issues and share solutions. Participants simulate delegates of the nation they are assigned to and represent that nation’s views and agendas to compromise on a resolution that solves the issues the assembly is presented with.
Delegates compromise and interact in committees, which include General Committees and Crisis Committees. General committees represent more delegates while crisis committees host fewer and are more specialized. This year’s MiniMUNC committees included ECOSOC: Right of Work; the NYC 2050 Fiscal Crisis; SOCHUM: the Government’s Right to Moderate Conflict; Occupation of Cyprus; England 1066: William the Conqueror’s Court; and MCU: The Blip.
Unlike other Model UN conferences, MiniMUNC is designed for new delegates and serves as a learning experience for them. “Our aim is to introduce new delegates to Model UN and allow them the opportunity to ask questions and learn from our experienced team members. MiniMUNC was created to cater directly to Stuyvesant students, and our only goal is that delegates leave the conference feeling excited about Model UN and having fun,” senior and Director-General of StuyMUN Isabel Ching said in an e-mail interview.
Additionally, MiniMUNC excluded awards to encourage delegates to gain experience and explore Model UN. To facilitate this, StuyMUN Upper Secretariat and Lower Secretariat members led workshops in addition to committee sessions. “Workshops addressed Public Speaking, Networking, and Resolution/Directive Writing and were 25 minutes long. They included an introduction to each topic and a drill addressing and teaching delegates the particular skill,” Ching said.
To accommodate for COVID-19 concerns, various restrictions were set during the conference to keep students safe and worked with the administration to follow DOE regulations. “Everyone had to wear masks throughout the conference and you had to fill out the [DOE] COVID screening when entering the building,” junior and Crisis Director Lianne Ohayon said. “Those measures held up well during the conference,”
Despite these restrictions, new attendees still managed to connect with others during the event. “I definitely enjoyed the event after being virtual for a year and a half. We all tried to get to know each other better and I feel like I was more connected with everyone than I have in the past [year],” freshman Krishi Shah said.
Freshman Khush Wadhwa agreed, describing the effectiveness of the transition for making conferences more engaging. “I was not here for miniMUNC in previous years, but the transition was very well managed,” Wadhwa said. “Attending conferences in person is significantly more engaging than being online for your focus is always on the room and you are able to work more efficiently.”
Some new members also enjoyed the variety of committees available at MiniMUNC. “I was surprised at how fun the different topics were, probably because they were so arbitrary. My committee had crises like a Russian nuclear threat, affairs within the government, etc,” sophomore Monica Lai said.
For future conferences, organizers hope there will be fewer restrictions and, thus, more interactions between delegates. “The biggest thing we would hope to change next year would be no COVID restrictions. Having no masks definitely helps with Model UN as well as public speaking and debate. I would love to see that change but that is out of our control,” Ohayon said.
Organizers also found MiniMUNC to be a learning experience as they plan for StuyMUNC, a larger conference held in April that hosts delegates from numerous different schools. “From this event, I think that our largest takeaway was that we can organize in-person events, albeit limited to smaller numbers and with social distancing,” junior and Director-General Ethan Wong said. “We definitely think that there's going to be a high turnout and hopefully, it will be pretty well organized come April.”
Even with restrictions and other challenges leading up to MiniMUNC, organizers believe that the conference was overall a positive experience. “There were some bumps on the road with the logistics in organizing this whole thing, getting enough delegates to come and making sure we have the supplies and all other needs for the committees but, with that, what’s most important is the fact that the delegates there honestly just had a fun time,” senior and Under-Secretary-General of Administration Justin Murdock said.