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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Model UN held at City College

More than 140 students gathered at City College to address international issues such as gender equality and economic reform when the 19th annual Western Collegiate Model United Nations (WestMUN) took place last Thursday through Saturday.

City College has remained the host of WestMUN for many years, while colleges from all over the Western US travel long distances for the event.

“This experience is unique because you are really learning by doing,” said Dr. Andrea Haupt, board member of WestMUN and City College political science professor. “They participate in the conference and instead of learning facts about the UN, they actually get to be a part of it. Very importantly, you are wearing the shoes of another country’s delegate.”

WestMUN is a simulation of an actual United Nations meeting. Students become a country delegate and debate current conflicts, create draft resolutions and negotiate with their opponents among other acts of diplomacy that their real-life counterparts do in New York.

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“The over-arching idea is that it’s a student-run event,” said Peter Haslund, WestMUN president and president of the City College Board of Trustees.

Faculty members remain in their “home office” and students can ask questions if needed, but faculty does not impose on the sessions.

The BC forum’s stage was lined with colorful flags when the conference began Thursday. Students started the session by raising their placard with their country’s name to vote for the first discussion topic. The meetings are run using real political jargon giving the conference a life-like feel.

“This has helped me because I’m bringing up my ideas and debating them,” said Wiko Shadrack, Security Council of the United Kingdom. “By coming here, I’m learning how to ask questions, how to talk and use the language and terms.

“You can’t just say, ‘Chair I think this.’ No¬—you have to know how to say it in a formal way,” he added.

Many students took an active role as a country delegate. They carried out their positions as their real-life counterparts would.

Juni Ingle, general manager of WestMUN mentioned a session where Iran and the US were debating the national financial situation. Iran argued that many of the financial problems originated from the western US. As the US stood up to argue its position, Iran walked out the door exhibiting the tension between the two countries.

Ingle said no one is taking it too seriously though and that it’s all out of good fun.

“This gives students a chance to visit with people who are the field and what they need in way of preparation to qualify for these jobs,” said Haslund.

The students continue to give positive feedback from the conference even if it was from realizing that a job in the UN isn’t what they want.

“At one point I wanted to work for the UN, and now I don’t,” said Dulce Lopez, general assembly of the Netherlands. “This has been great though because now I know that maybe this isn’t a job I would want.”

“I think I’ll just join the Peace Corps,” she said.

The seven committee sessions were divided by scheduled meals and barbeques. Friday’s sunny sky allowed some students to retire their three-piece suits and take a dip in the ocean during their lunch break. After the hour was up, they jumped back into their slacks and on they went to the next political debate.

Friday, guest speaker Dr. John G Stoessinger, an internationally recognized author and political analyst came to discuss three current events: China, Arab revolt and Japan and how the UN has been involved with each of them. Dr. Stoessinger closed his lecture by singing Beethoven’s, “Ode to Joy” in hopes to leave the crowd of young professionals on a happy note.

“There has to be somewhere in the world where people exchange ballots—not bullets,” Stoessinger said during his lecture. “That’s what the UN and General Assembly does.”

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