Last Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Tillman Auditorium, the 38th Annual Model United Nations conference began. Students in the PLSC 260 class were delegates from countries that are part of the real United Nations, and they mentored students from high schools all over the state that participated in being those countries as well. However, Wednesday night’s debate was the time for the 260 students to show off the debating skills they have been learning all semester.
Before the debate could begin however, there was the opening ceremony that consisted of many praising and wise words from a few different speakers.
Kayla Davis, the Secretary-General spoke first about her experience with Model UN and how special it has been to her. Coordinator General Parker Quinlan delivered a humble speech about what it means to the students, and that is what matters most.
He also praised the students who considered themselves too shy to speak, but had the courage to do it for this conference.
Dr. Van Aller, the professor for the Model UN class spoke next, praising everyone who had a hand in planning the conference, as well as praising the high school teachers for bringing their students.
He spoke about how busy the conference always is and how things do not always go in the way that people plan.
“We teach people to be professionals,” Van Aller said, “we’ve adapted and figured out what to do. That’s as important as knowing how to give a speech.”
Van Aller then introduced President Comstock, who spoke about progress in the world throughout the years and how Model UN prepares students to aid those changes. Comstock then introduced the keynote speaker, Naomi Tutu.
Tutu, a native of South Africa, began by speaking of the hospitality of the university and then touched on her experience as an economist, specifically her experiences in Ghana. A forest that she was supposed to be observing to write up a cost benefit analysis made her change what she wanted to do with her life.
“To the people living in the forest, this forest was more than trees,” Tutu said, “how can we be talking about development of a community when we ignore their stories? So I left.”
Tutu spoke about the fact that her people are very attached to proverbs, her family especially. She said that as a literal minded African, the proverbs never made much sense to her. A favorite proverb of her family was, “A person is a person through other people.” It was not until much later, through her experience with oppression from the white South Africans, that she understood what it truly meant. The proverb, “In times of flood, the wise build bridges, the foolish build walls,” also came to have a ring of clarity for her.
“As they oppressed us, they had truly oppressed themselves. They did not build bridges, they tried to build walls. You who are here today are tasked with finding common ground with building bridges between people who look at each other with suspicion.”
After a few minutes, Director General JC Doughtery and Coordinator General Parker Quinlan presented gavels to the PLSC 261 delegates that had the job of chairing – or moderating – debates for each group (Social/Humanitarian Committee, Legal Committee, Security Council, Political and Security Committee, and Special Committee).
After roll call, the resolution was presented to the delegates. A resolution is what the delegates spend their time debating on, and when the time to vote comes around, there are many different ways the voting process can go. A resolution can be passed, vetoed, or tabled (meaning that no votes are cast and the debate ends in a stalemate).
Before an amendment can be debated, the Chair has to check for the necessary amount of co-sponsors needed (five).
After it was approved, a speakers’ list was created to debate the amendment.
A final vote of 48-13 moved the amendment to the voting stage. With a vote of 34 for, 21 against and 8 abstentions, the amendment passed, taking out articles three and four of the resolution.
The delegate from Venezuela then motioned for a three-minute un-moderated caucus. After the caucus, the Chair reminded the Assembly that five more speakers had to go before any more amendments could be presented. The speaker’s time was put at 30 seconds, and the points of information were moved to three.
After two delegates spoke and one had time yielded, the Chair then moved the speaker’s time to 45 seconds and the points of information at two
Four delegates spoke, two were yielded time and one amendment was attempted to be introduced, but was denied due to time constraints.
One delegate spoke and then the delegate from Bolivia moved for cloture of debate, which required one person speaking for and one person speaking against the motion.
The Chair reminded the Assembly that a vote of 2/3 was required for the motion to pass, and if it fails, two more speakers for and two against the resolution were required to go before it could be a motion again.
With a vote of 47-17, the motion failed, with 2/3 being 48. Venezuela then moved to table the resolution indefinitely, and two speakers were required to speak for the resolution and two were required to speak against.
With a vote of 42-22, the resolution was tabled, with adjournment until the next day at 8 a.m.