Model UN heads to McGill for national conference

By Scott Strasser

From Jan. 23–26, the University of Calgary Model United Nations club (MUN) will attend the Model United Nations Assembly, hosted by McGill University. The event — nicknamed McMUN — will see more than 1,400 students from around the world debate and discuss international relations and politics.

At McMUN, students are organized into a series of councils and committees to simulate debates held at the United Nations. Hailed as Canada’s premiere model UN conference, McMUN has hosted notable speakers like Romeo Dalaire and Louise Frechette in the past.

“Model United Nations is essentially a simulation of the United Nations and its committees,” said MUN president and fourth-year history student Joseph Bogle. “It lets you get into this group setting where you’re with people with similar interests as you.”

MUN attends two conferences every year. Apart from the annual trip to McGill, the club attends a conference at the University of British Columbia.

For some MUN members, involvement can begin before they enter university.

“I’ve been doing MUN for six years now, so I’ve been doing it since I started high school,” said third-year international relations and women’s studies student Leah Schmidt, who is the MUN’s current vice-president. “U of C runs this massive simulation called High School Model UN and I participated in that for three years as a high school student before being requested to join the team.”

After coming to the U of C, Schmidt quickly rose through the ranks of the club.

“It has been awesome. In high school everything was just local, but [since starting university], I’ve done McMUN and UBC mostly every year, and I’m going to go to New York this March for MUN as well,” Schmidt said. “You do get to travel a bit.”

Boglee enthusiastically listed the countries participating in this year’s conference.

“We’ll work with students from the United States, Mexico, England, continental Europe, all over the world,” Bogle said. “Last year, I was in a council with a student from Namibia. We’re really the only club that participates in international competitions.”

While McMUN has several social events for students to enjoy, the emphasis for MUN will be on winning debates.

“We’ll spend the day debating topics. You go into the committee with a set platform you’re going to argue. It’s about winning, like any other competition or sport,” Bogle said.