NAIMUN a Success Despite Weather
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 03:02
Despite heavy snow and travel difficulties, the Georgetown International Relations Association’s 51st North American Invitational Model United Nations Conference took place from Feb. 13 to 16.
In response to snow, NAIMUN staffers, led by NAIMUN Secretary-General Pavan Rajgopal (SFS ’15) and Executive Director Sarah Pemberton (SFS ’15), focused on the ability of committees to adapt and creatively continue discourse despite delayed delegates.
“There was just a lot of adaptation we had to do, mostly on the executive side, so that’s Pavan and Sarah who were running the conference, and they did a great job with it,” Danny Aherne (COL ’16), director of the U.S. Supreme Court committee, said.
The heavy snow affected travel plans, causing many of the 150 attending high school delegations difficulties in reaching the Hilton in Dupont Circle. Only about two-thirds of high school students arrived in time for the first committee session at 9 p.m. on Thursday.
Late delegates, however, creatively stepped into their roles.
“Some of the people that got awards were people that came late,” Andrew Wang, president of the Roxbury Latin School’s Model UN, said. “So I think they definitely did a good job of making sure that people got caught up, and in knowing how to help them out.”
For those committees deemed unable to run because of the lack of delegates, Georgetown staffers found several creative solutions.
“A few of us on security were asked to sort of fill in on a few of the committees because there were so many delegates missing that you couldn’t really run an effective committee,” staffer Alex Barnes (SFS ’16) said. “So a few of us stepped in and took the places of the high school kids that were missing. … I tried to start a secret war between the [United States] and the USSR, so that was fun.”
Crisis committees, although carefully structured, allowed delegates to control the direction of the committee.
“You usually sit down with the secretary-general, the director-general, the [Undersecretary-General] and the [Deputy Undersecretary-General] and you discuss different potential committee styles or committee types,” DUSG Councils, Boards and Courts Isobel Blakeway-Phillips (SFS ’16) said. “A lot of times you’ll have one or two ideas when you’re going into it, lots of which can be really, really controversial, and you take stages to come up with. [The trial of] Kaiser Wilhelm, we sat there for about an hour discussing whether or not it would even function properly.”
In addition to replacing absent delegates with present staffers, NAIMUN executives presented Georgetown chairs and directors with other solutions.
“Our committee was only supposed to have only 13 kids, so if you’re missing, you know, five kids, it’s not going to run very smoothly,” Aherne said. “So we wound up moving kids from different committees in, which actually worked really well.”
Though this on-the-spot shuffling of delegates left some committees well short of a necessary number, Aherne said that individual chairs and directors adapted remarkably well, along with the general oversight of executives.
“Mike [Sliwinski (SFS ’16)] also turned his committee into a crisis. So, his was supposed to be the [Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice], and so ostensibly they’re supposed to be dealing with macro issues, but given how small the committee was, because of how many kids weren’t able to make it and how many got moved onto different committee … they made a crisis arc out of it, where they had pirates and whatnot.”
According to attendee Wang, the ad hoc gambit paid off.
“I think NAIMUN is really creative with how they run their crisis committees, with the crises that they give us and making it creative, making it fun,” Wang said. “The chairs let us steer the direction of it our own way, as opposed to kind of saying, ‘We have to talk about this.’”