MACON – Mercer’s Model United Nations team represented the countries of Barbados and the Dominican Republic at the 33rd Southern Regional Model United Nations (SRMUN) conference held Nov. 17-19 in Atlanta.
Model United Nations is an organization that allows students to better understand the field of diplomacy in a fun way. Mercer’s club started in 2021 and has since doubled its number of participants.
The conferences attended by the Model U.N. team emulate the values of international cooperation and governance while allowing students to assume the role of a delegation creating international policy on behalf of an assigned country or countries.
“There’s a lot of community-building, and you meet a lot of people with similar interests from other universities. And we get to make friends, but the community building is definitely my favorite part of Model U.N.,” said Rachel Bowdler, president of Mercer’s Model U.N. club.
Another interesting aspect to the conferences attended by the Model U.N. team is that, unlike other similar organizations, there are not stepping stones or qualifiers to what level of conference the team attends. Students have full autonomy as to whether they want to attend conferences at the state, regional or national level.
During the semester, the team meets once a week and discusses how to give public speeches, write properly and effectively communicate. Prior to attending conferences, the team writes position papers, which include research on their assigned countries and their positions on specific issues.
Given the difference between developing nations and developed nations, it is important for members to do extensive research since countries respond differently to specific issues.
“Some conferences do something called double delegation where two people can represent one country. And so as two people, you’re basically still one country. You just have to write one position paper together,” said Tamilore Dairo, Model U.N. fundraising chair. “So, what a lot of teams will do is partners will split topics. One person will write for this topic, and the other person will write for the other topic.”
At the Atlanta conference, these topics included weaponization of artificial intelligence and the illicit global arms trade. Two groups of Mercer students ranked high with their position papers and scored the equivalent of “A” grades.
Additionally, students also represent committees, such as the Science, Trade and Development Committee, wherein they focus on topics like cryptocurrency, tax evasion and illegal financial flows with trafficking money.
“The topics that were brought up, for example, were should we have A.I. control drones? Is that ethical or not? What if it gets in the hands of terrorist groups? So, each group will have positions on those types of issues, and we submit that in advance, and that’s what we work with when we go there,” said Dr. Phoebe Moon, faculty adviser for Model U.N and assistant professor of political science.
In Atlanta, serving on the General Assembly Plenary Committee, two sets of partners – Cheyenna Kamau and Mya Kimbrough, as well as Jason Rother and Illana Sondha-Bouih – both scored 93s on their position papers.
Additionally, during conferences, students work together to write group papers with other delegates to determine international policy agreements. After working together, students vote on the different papers they have submitted to see which ones will and won’t pass.
Following the Atlanta conference, the team members have many different ideas on how they want to expand and develop moving forward. One thing in particular that they are looking to do is attend at least one conference per semester.
“I really want to take my team to the North Model U.N. conferences and take them to New York. I’ve heard from other delegations and other students at conferences that New York does it a lot differently than SRMUN. And that they’re kind of generally more organized, they’re a lot bigger, and they’re just like a more enjoyable conference to go to,” Bowdler said.
Model U.N. is also looking to go to Washington, D.C., next fall, as well as other, smaller conferences.
Additionally, the team is considering hosting its own Model U.N. conference for high schoolers, which would allow Mercer students the opportunity to understand how conferences work from a different perspective.
Mercer students consider their involvement with Model U.N. to be a fun learning experience and are excited to continue growing.
“Model U.N. was a lot of fun this year,” said member Maddie Pardue. “I did a couple of conferences in high school. I was really excited to be able to continue doing this here in college. I really enjoy going to the conferences and getting to interact with a lot of people and learn more about all the different positions on foreign policies.”
The team is also looking to increase its numbers so that it can represent other countries since the country represented is based on how many members the team has.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s given me friends, given me a lot of really great experiences. And I’m confident that as we go on, we’ll be able to continue providing that to people who wish to sign up,” said Thomas Nation, Model U.N. treasurer and vice president. “So, stay tuned, because we’ve got big plans for the future. And if anyone wants to be a part of it, they know where to find us.”
Mercer students interested in Model U.N. may contact Bowdler at email@example.com.
Featured photo courtesy Phoebe Moon