USC hosts high school MUN conference

USC Model United Nations held the closing ceremony for its annual Model UN conference for high school students Sunday. The conference, known as SCMUN, opened on Friday evening, and kicked off a full schedule of debate, problem solving and collaboration surrounding simulated situations in international affairs.

During the conference, participants represented a country and formed a resolution group with other countries to meet their combined interests on a certain topic and determine future course of action following days of debating. Sophomore Alex Melnik, secretary-general of the conference, studying international relations and policy, planning and development, said the range of situations is wide and not limited to current affairs.

“We have a mix of historical, contemporary and futuristic committees,” Melnik said. “For example, in terms of a future committee we have a committee that takes place in the year 2022 when the Winter Olympics are hosted in China, and the scenario is that Tibet is looking to secede from China.”

Sophomore Shelley Dai, chief executive of the conference, said the event was a great success given the turnout.

“We managed to grow this conference, I think, 133 percent from the last year, so it’s really high growth, and we’re looking forward to next year maybe getting 350 to 400 delegates,” Melnik said.

Conference participation helps run the club’s operations. In addition to events for high school students, the club also sends delegates to compete in conferences around the country. Given the travel involved, participation in these competitions can be a large expense to bear without help.

“Generally for conferences, we’ll have to stay in a hotel, and we have registration fees as well, but for the past few we’ve been able to subsidize all the spots we offered which is great, meaning that no matter your financial status, you’ll be able to go to a conference,” Dai said.

The club has been very successful in these conferences recently.

“We recently went to LAMUN, which is UCLA’s Model UN conference, and received a lot of different awards including the ‘best small delegation’ award, so we’re a very competitive team,” Melnik said.

The club prides itself not only on competing in competitions but also on outreach efforts. The club launched a new program in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and their Youth Ambassadors program to bring Model UN to new high schools. The program provides 14 children an opportunity to learn about debate in Model UN as well as scholarships to attend a conference. Programs like these fit into the club’s guiding objective of helping others through Model UN.

“Our main message throughout the club has been aiding others as the model United Nations,” Dai said. “We want to make sure these high schoolers and middle schoolers have a focus on nonprofits, which we’re both very involved in as well as a general message of helping out.”

Getting involved in the club is fairly easy to do and doesn’t require any prior experience. Right now, the club has members from a wide range of academic backgrounds.

“We have premed, engineering and computer science [students.] Part of the club has a training aspect to it, so people who have never done Model U.N. before will learn about public speaking, and about procedures, as well as just how to debate,” Melnik said.

Dai spoke about the club’s transition from primarily seniors in leadership positions, to younger members taking over.

“It’s been really interesting having this quick turnover from the seniors to the sophomores and having a young club trying to regain experience on our own,” Dai said. “Those are definitely some challenges we’ve been facing, but it means that we’ll have a lot of continuity as our club continues on.”