Team sweeps Model U.N. conferenceBy Jennifer Vanasco
The University of Chicago Model United Nations team swept the University of Pennsylvania conference, one of the most prestigious Model U.N. conferences in the world, winning five best delegate awards out of seven and coming home with the Ben Franklin Cup.
Last year, the MUN team attended the three largest Model U.N. conferences: Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard, taking home first places from all three. This year's team took second place at Yale, and in March the group will have the opportunity to maintain its dominance of the Harvard conference, where they have won Best Delegation in nine of the last ten competitions -- an achievement unprecedented in Model U.N. competition.
Fifty-eight of the nation's most elite collegiate Model U.N. teams competed in the four-day conference at the University of Pennsylvania, simulating debates in U.N. committees on such topics as control of biological and chemical weapons, international computer crime, genetic cloning and the continuing tensions in Iraq. The University of Pennsylvania Model United Nations Conference, held annually for more than 30 years, is the fourth largest collegiate conference in the world.
"Head delegates from other schools and the UPenn staff kept asking questions like 'What do you do to train so many high-quality delegates?' " said Tim Crowhurst, vice president of Chicago's Model U.N. team. "Since other schools spend several hours every week working on nations' policies, they were astonished to learn that we just make sure that everyone knows the rules of parliamentary procedure. The substantive research and policy formation is left almost entirely up to our individual delegates."
Fourteen out of the 21 University of Chicago delegations were recognized with Outstanding Delegate awards, Honorable Mention awards, or Verbal Commendations. The winners of the Outstanding Delegate awards were Kate Wittekindt and Sid Bale, both fourth-years in the College, second-year Victor Glowacki, and the two-student teams of fourth-year Ivan Chan and third-year Alia Vinson, and fourth-year Alison Bennett and third-year Gary Tozbikian.
Model United Nations is the fastest growing form of organized debate in the world. The worldwide system is a collection of conferences, mostly in the United States, but also in many other nations. Students gather and represent individual nations' policies in debating real world issues over the course of a few days.
"The experience of a Model U.N. conference, where delegates represent a country's policy instead of their own personal beliefs, helps to shed light on the complications of diplomacy in a world of global conflicts and problems," says Crowhurst. "The true challenge is to reason through an issue with a country that has a fundamentally different perspective and come to a solution that is acceptable for all parties concerned."