Model UN back on campus

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After a brief hiatus, students driven to become model representatives of Saint Louis University have taken it upon themselves to bring back Model United Nations.  According to the Political Science Department, there was a big demand from students to reinstate Model U.N., which is dedicated to educating students on foreign policy through mock U.N. conferences.

“We were told that there was interest in restarting this program,” junior Joseph Yancey, one of several students spearheading the program’s reinstatement, said.  “A couple of us took upon ourselves as a duty to make this happen, we felt like this club should have it’s place at SLU.”

J.R. Leguey-Feilleux, a professor in the political science department who advised the previous chapter, is set to advise this new group of interested students.

“I was quite happy when the students came to me about the idea, just as long as they gathered the support,” Leguey-Feilleux said. “I have had a feeling for a long time that this was extremely beneficial to all students and the overall educational experience at SLU. I was sad to see it go the first time around but interest levels and money were the main detriments.”

Leguey-Feilleux said that the benefits of a Model UN are so numerous that he was surprised that interest faded almost two decades ago. Leguey-Feilleux said that the experience of public speaking, organization, and preparedness are essential to any career field.  Most importantly the idea of competition, diplomacy and negotiation can only help students with future endeavors.

Each school participating in Model UN is assigned to learn the social norms and foreign policy of a specific country, and then represent that country at a conference which includes 150 to 200 other chapters.

Students form a delegation of two to five participants, choose a country from a list of available countries ahead of the conference date, and prepare for the conference as if they were diplomats from their country of choice attending a real UN conference.

“Students engage in research of the political regime, dynamics and ideals of their chosen country and prepare for conferences by attempting to ‘predict’ the actions such country would take in a live setting,” senior Kellen Gracey, who is spearheading the chapter’s resurrection at SLU, said. “By representing countries other than the United States, American students gain rewarding perspectives of how policy issues are handled in other places.”

Several delegations from each school are commonly sent to Model UN conferences.

“Delegates are not to form personal opinions, be influenced by prejudices or act according to the ideals of their country of origin; rather, delegates are to speak on behalf of the country they represent and attempt to identify the path real delegates from their chosen country would take, if faced with such issues.” Gracey said,

The club is open to all students, not just those in the political science department.  An enrollment fee is still being considered by the student leaders and Leguey-Feillux.

“Model UN creates friendships and networks of students across the country that share a passion for international relations, by building bonds both within and outside of the conference rooms,” Gracey said. “Model UN is an invaluable tool for developing world leaders of tomorrow and promoting peaceful resolutions of international affairs.”

According to Yancey, students are in the process of creating a constitution and bylaws for the new group, as well as a request for spot-funding from the Student Government Association.  Yancey said the group is taking the first steps to becoming a chartered student organization at SLU through the Student Governance Association. This, Yancey said, could be the first domino to fall in bringing the program back.