Model United Nations delegates adapt to online conferences

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On Nov. 7 and 8, RUHS’s Model United Nations (MUN) club attended the University of California, Berkeley’s first virtual MUN conference. Despite the adjustments made to adapt the conference for an online platform, juniors Anton Stover and Tyler Lee came away from the weekend with personal successes and a positive outlook on future online MUN conferences.

“The communication online versus in person is probably the biggest difference,” said Lee, who has been attending MUN conferences since his freshman year. “Usually, you’re all standing in a circle, exchanging ideas. This time you’re in a breakout room, and sometimes there’s interrupting. You can’t hear when somebody’s done, or two people will start talking over each other. ”

Nevertheless, the hosts of the conference made the best of their online setting to facilitate and expand communication. To replicate the caucus portion of an in-person conference—in which delegates move around the room to discuss and form alliances with other committees—the hosts utilized the new Zoom update that allows participants to join breakout rooms without being assigned.

“People would say, ‘Join Breakout Room 2 if you want to discuss ‘agricultural solutions,’ for example,” Stover said.

On top of the tools provided by Zoom—such as the  ‘raise hand’ and polling features, which were used for debate and voting—Berkeley also used a Discord server for communication between committees. Discord also helped Stover, who is newer to MUN, in practicing for a virtual conference. 

“I did three conferences in real life, and then during break, around April, my friend who’s also in Model UN was like, ‘Hey, I found this cool Discord server that does Model UN,’ so I did nine crises over the span of like, seven months,” Stover said. “So I went from no awards in three novice committees to going straight to crisis and getting Best Delegate.”

In addition to Stover being awarded Best Delegate and Lee receiving an Honorable Mention, the two had many personal successes over the course of the weekend, they said. Lee, who represented merely the musician of King Louis the 14th in a crisis full of statesmen, was particularly proud of what he was able to accomplish.

“I started a peasant revolt in England, and then overthrew the monarch and became Royal Governor,” Lee said. “I had no clue whether it was going to work, I was just trying something out. Worst case, I had some fun and it didn’t work, but it actually turned out to be a success.”