High school students attend the Susquehanna Valley Model United Nations conference, which was hosted by Millersville University prior to the pandemic. / PHOTO COURTESY OF MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY
Get your gavels and placards ready! A new organization started up this past fall, holding its first meeting last Wednesday in the Student Memorial Center.
The Model United Nations club, which was approved by the Student Government Association (SGA) in October, seeks to educate students on topics in politics and international relations, while also simulating political discussions and debates for an exciting learning experience.
Approximately 20 to 30 students attended last week’s inaugural meeting, where co-founder and president Jake Shockey explained the structure and activities involved in Model UN, including debates, parliamentary procedure, and planned activities such as competitions, fundraisers, volunteering at high school meetings, and visiting the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
Dr. Kirsten N. Bookmiller, a professor of Government, Policy, and Law at Millersville University, serves as the faculty advisor for the budding organization.
“What really gets a new club going is when they get started from the grassroots, rather than top-down,” says Bookmiller, “I have seen students come and go with interest in joining Model UN or starting a team, but it never worked out … to see such a large and passionate group of students finally coming together really impresses me.”
As is required for all new organizations, Model UN will undergo a one-year probationary process before it can receive SGA funding. This allows participants to learn the ropes of running a club on campus, while also giving their organization the opportunity to gain interest among the student body.
While the 2022-23 year will be the first for a Model UN team on campus at the collegiate level, the practice of international politics and debate goes further back. As late as Fall 2019, just prior to the pandemic, Millersville University was home to an annual conference for high school students, known as the Susquehanna Valley Model United Nations (SVMUN) conference. Each year, more than 200 students from 60 high schools would gather in the meeting rooms of Gordinier Hall to simulate both real and hypothetical situations and conflicts related to public policy and international relations. With many schools returning to in-person instruction, Bookmiller and Shockey, as well as the new members, anticipate bringing the conference back, this time with a built-in team of volunteers.
While getting the organization up and running will surely be a challenge, president Jake Shockey anticipates an exciting learning experience for the fledgling team.
“It took a lot of hard work to get this far,” Shockey states, “which makes it all the more exciting to see everyone getting together as a team to make this happen. There’s a lot more to be done, but we can certainly get there.”
As the Model UN team continues to flesh itself out as an organization, Shockey looks to appoint the founding executive board, including a vice president, secretary, and treasurer. In addition, both the club president and faculty advisor anticipate an active social media campaign and attending competitions at other schools to boost the new team’s exposure and reputation.Students interested in joining the Model United Nations club or applying for an executive board position may reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.