Model UN team wins two awards at regional competition

By Emily Leayman

Scott Davis, the KU Model UN president, recalls last year at the World Model United Nations Conference in Australia, one participant recognized KU from the awards their Model UN team won the previous year. This academic year, the team has won two awards so far.

Senior team members Ezra Kane-Salafia and Camden Delphus each won verbal commendation awards at the latest conference at Columbia University, according to Davis.

The Model UN team is a debate team sponsored by the university. They travel around the country and the world to compete against teams from around the world. They debate on particular issues that concern the world and come up with working solutions.

Due to these awards, the team will go up in its ranking. It is among the top 75 teams in the nation in their circuit.

“It brings recognition to KU,” said Davis. “Not many people know KU when we go there, but they […] know us when we leave, especially when we win awards.”

At the conferences, the team usually brings around seven to 10 people. They are split into committees, so they send one or two people for each. They usually face anywhere from 20 to 200 other people in each committee. The two committees are crisis, where participants play a particular person in a scenario, or General Assembly, where they represent a particular country in the UN.

Davis said the team averages one to two awards each year. Some years, the team has gone without awards. The number of awards is usually based on how much work the team members put into the competition. This year, competitiveness within the team increased, since the team doubled from between 15 and 20 members to 35.

“This year we have such an amazing team,” he said. “We’re getting better people, we’ve reshaped our training regimen, and I think that’s really reflecting seeing that we are winning these awards.”

Model UN team prepares for debate at Columbia University's competition.
Model UN team prepares for debate at Columbia University’s competition.

Davis says schools such as the Ivy Leagues show up to these competitions with a strategy that determines how to get awards. The KU team planned their own strategy to “go for the awards and the experience.”

Their first step is distinguishing themselves as leaders. Davis said that it is important to show upfront that their members can be the ones people come to for solutions. The second step is making sure the research is thorough and the solutions are defined and worked out. They must respond quickly and eliminate any concerns of people attacking the solution.

They also get help from resources at KU, such as teachers in the political science department that specialize in particular topics.

Their next conference is at the University of Pennsylvania from Nov. 14-17. In spring, they are attending two competitive conferences: the University of California Berkeley in early March and the World Model UN Conference at Harvard University in mid-March.

Davis said the Harvard competition is important because it attracts many schools across the nations and around the world. Over 150 nations were represented at the 2013 world competition.

Competitions are usually four days, eight hours a day, with the exception of the seven-day world competition.

The KU Model UN team will host the KU Model United Nations Conference at the University in mid-April. It is intended for high school students around the region. This year, however, KU students are invited to join.

“It’s open to all of KU which is really exciting for us because our friends and everyone from our classes will get the chance to be involved in this great stuff,” said Davis.

This conference is being resurrected after it fell apart after being held in 2006 and 2010. The team is creating efforts to ensure the conference will happen every year.

Right now, the KU team is the only team representing PASSHE although other schools are expressing interest in starting up teams.

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