Calling all delegates: Model United Nations Club to continue online

Model United Nations adapts to COVID-19 in its 2020-2021 season

The 2019-2020 Model United Nations club stands in front of the Supreme Court building. The club had attended a national conference in Washington, D.C., just one month before lockdowns occurred. PHOTO COURTESY OF JUNINHO PANIOUCHKINE.

Committee is now in session; except this time, it’s from home. The Model United Nations (MUN) club has had to make some adjustments for both their regularly scheduled meetings and prospective conferences in order to compensate for the social distancing regulations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MUN is a club where students embody United Nations delegates and debate during mock conferences. Students are assigned both a country to represent and a committee with specific humanitarian, political, or economic topics. The goal of each delegate is to share their research, communicate with other country representatives, and collectively draft a resolution paper that outlines possible solutions for any glaring issues. 

“We’ve had to transition to a virtual setting, which has been a major struggle. The returning and new delegates have both been so attentive as we’ve tried to navigate a reliable way of communicating. Obviously, it’s so much less engaging when students are constricted to just a computer screen instead of lively, in-person banter,” club host Nicholas Skleranko said. 

Sklarenko and the MUN board have planned normal, weekly meetings that are administered through the virtual platforms Zoom and Discord. Both platforms aid in online communication; Zoom is a video-chatting application, while Discord is an instant messaging application. 

The club board decided to use Zoom to ensure that meetings are “as collaborative and effective” as possible and because it is an “efficient and coherent” way to instruct. They want to incorporate Discord as an additional way of contact, as it allows rules, regulations, online-lessons and guidance to be provided to delegates. 

“The board and I have tried to make ourselves as available as possible, and we hope to use these online platforms to our advantage. We are trying to encourage questions and ignite discussions and conversations in order to simulate that same dynamic that we usually have during club. It’s really unique in the sense that we are all connected through our love of international relations and debate,” club president Juninho Paniouchkine said. 

The board is working to help educate club members about different aspects of conferences to ensure that they are adequately prepared for their online committees. 

“We are adjusting our training tactics a little bit this year to fit more of a virtual atmosphere. We plan to hold online training sessions to assist the delegates in learning terminology, researching and writing resolution papers. We also want to familiarize the club members with online platforms since it seems like they will be widely utilized at several conferences,” Paniouchkine said. 

As of now, the club is planning to attend some collegiate conferences, including BearMUN hosted by UC Berkeley and BruinMUN hosted by UCLA. They hope to participate in some long-distance travel conferences, but are unsure if they will be able to due to safety guidelines.

“We’re all really excited to start going to conferences again, but considering the current circumstances, we are definitely facing unprecedented conference set-ups. We can safely assume that conferences will be strictly online, but we won’t really know the specificities until we get closer to the actual time of the debates,” Skarenko said. 

Nonetheless, Sklarenko and the board both seem confident in the club’s abilities and firmly believe the Redondo delegation will continue to prosper regardless of the various restrictions.

“This is a really special group of kids. They’re here because they want to be here; they have an urge to learn about real world humanitarian issues, and they enjoy doing it,” Sklarenko said. “I’m always in such awe when I see the amount of effort our delegates put in. If they continue to push themselves, I have no doubt that our club will continue to foster success, no matter the circumstances.”