Model UN club teaches debate skills


Chris Alexander

Seniors Bailey Darcus, Bryden Kaminsky, Connor Paola, Nicholas Yuhas, and debate global affairs concerning their respective nations.

Model United Nations, better known as Model UN, is an educational simulation in which students can learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations.
“We are assigned countries to represent, topics to research and come prepared to solve, and we practice basic speech, debate, collaboration, research, and writing skills,” said Samantha Gebel, Model UN advisor and English teacher.
Students resolve conflicts
During a club meeting, student delegates make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedure, while playing their roles as ambassadors. In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from United Nations member states to debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. Climate action, equality, human trafficking, and global health are examples of topics often discussed during meetings.
“To write our papers and statements, we go on the Model UN website to find information on current problems,” said Mia Quenzler, a freshman.
They spend the year preparing for the Model United Nations Conference, where other high school Model UN clubs meet and debate. This year, the meeting will be held in February. In a typical meeting, the club officers go through announcements while members work on computers to research, write, and collaborate in preparation for the conference.
Writing policies
Some meetings involve learning how to write policy statements, resolutions, research country information, and learning terms commonly used in the United Nations. Other meetings are more club-based in brainstorming fundraising ideas and recruitment ideas.
“Everyone in the club is so well-spoken and opinionated, and working on our essays can be really fun because it’s a real learning experience,” said Alexis Walford, a freshman.
The main goals of Model UN include to have students fully learn about their assigned country, learn about committee topics, learn how to problem-solve issues, learn how to argue and collaborate with a large group of people (most committees are about 30+ students), and attend the February conference. The conference they attend is a competition where schools and individuals can win awards.
Small club
Currently, there are around 11 students attending each conference, but almost 30 were originally members after club rush. Many students end up dropping out because they feel unable to put in the work, meet the deadlines, and attend club meetings. With deadlines starting in September and all the research and writing they have to do first semester, it does not leave much time for students to be social.
“Every year I start with twice, sometimes three times, as many as I end up taking to the conference. It can be very disheartening to have such inconsistent attendance,” said Gebel.
Despite the workload, Model UN is a club that many students do end up enjoying. Colleges also tend to look for clubs like this, that have debate and speech elements, when admitting students. Model UN meets every Wednesday during lunch in room 314,