IU’s Model United Nations team swept the American Model United Nations Conference



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Members of IU's Model United Nations spent four days working with students from all over the country to debate national issues. IU's team swept the competition. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

IU’s Model United Nations team swept the 2015 American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago, winning 11 awards overall.

The team was awarded nine individual “Outstanding Delegation” awards, one “Exceptional” International Court of Justice award and an “Overall Best Delegation” award for the delegation representing China.

Nick Ceryak, a sophomore studying accounting and technology management at the Kelley School of Business as well as Chinese through the Chinese Flagship Program, is the IUMUN president-elect for the spring 2016 semester.

“These conferences present immeasurable benefits to the students,” Ceryak said. “The simulation takes the student through every step of the international policymaking process and develops several critical life skills along the way.”

For four days, the team’s 70 delegates worked with students from more than 100 different schools to build consensus, debate international issues and reach meaningful solutions. Delegates worked through a diverse set of issues ranging from climate change to international terrorism to digital privacy.

Though the program is specifically for undergraduate students, Ceryak said IUMUN encompasses a wide range of majors and career goals including public policy, political science, international studies, business and science.

“Students with unique majors or educational backgrounds are often able to leverage them in MUN contexts,” Ceryak said. “I have seen physics majors take control of committee rooms discussing nuclear energy, because they have policy proposals that cut much deeper into the issue at hand.”

Erin McMenamin, a student in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs’ accelerated masters program, serves as one of two graduate assistants of the IUMUN team.

“Any student can be the best student,” McMenamin said. “We look for individuals who are interested in the world, those who take seriously their role in shaping positive change and individuals that are interested in learning how to negotiate and solve problems through consensus building.”

McMenamin said students should not feel discouraged from participating in the IUMUN program based on their field of study.

“We have excellent delegates that are in majors that don’t traditionally correlate with an international relations focused activity,” McMenamin said. “Diverse studies lend to diverse sources of thought and problem solving.”

R.J. Woodring, the associate director of undergraduate programming in SPEA, serves as the advisor for the IU Model UN program.

“This is a great way to sharpen one’s research, speech, debate and diplomatic skills in a friendly, competitive environment,” Woodring said.

In addition to debating with their peers, Woodring said students involved with the IUMUN program conduct extensive research, create policy papers and assess issues from multiple perspectives.

“They work really hard, but they also have fun doing it,” Woodring said. “It really is an ideal co-curricular activity in the way that connects student academic interests to a competition they can participate in with their friends and peers.”

In addition to the debate aspect of IUMUN, Ceryak said there are a variety of ways students can become involved in the program, such as serving a position on the executive board, which is responsible for management of the club’s logistics.

Ceryak said IUMUN presents an MUN conference for high school students each February at which IUMUN members are encouraged to participate by serving on the secretariat or filling other staff positions, such as chairs and rapporteurs.

Although IUMUN recruitment efforts usually take place during the beginning of the fall semester, Ceryak said they will be taking new members during the upcoming spring semester as well.

“It’s vital that we continue to educate students to be global citizens,” McMenamin said. “Not only is it worthwhile for young people to be connected with the world at large, it is impossible in this time in history to be completely isolated from the world.”

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