Cheating in Model UN can be immensely irritating to anyone who plays by the rules. However, dealing with cheating in Model UN is not always a straight forward process, as it can be very subtle, and reporting cheating is difficult because it is an awkward process that you do not want to be wrong about. For these reasons, it is important for delegates to know how to deal with cheating without ruining their own conference.
To get ahead of any possible cheaters, the most important thing to know is the rules of the conference. In most conferences in the United States, plagiarism and pre-writing are punishable offenses. However, depending on the conference, writing clauses in the first session, writing clauses on a topic that has not officially begun, and writing clauses outside of committee may also be a punishable. I always try and look these issues up before the conference. It is also important to note that the policy and enforcement on writing clauses outside of committee can vary between committees, so I usually ask my chair at the end of the first session.
For prewriting, another important precaution to take is using a document editor with edit histories. Try and make sure that your entire group is on a unified doc from the beginning because when copy-pasting documents together, it tends become difficult to identify if a passage was written during or before the conference. For this reason, I personally recommend working on one unified good document. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to stop pre-writing in other blocs.
Plagiarism of outside documents is usually caught by the chairs in most competitive conferences, because they run all of the resolutions that are submitted through plagiarism checkers that are usually very effective. Small conferences and less competitive conferences usually do not take the same precautions.
However, no matter what conference you are attending, it is good to try and have a plagiarism checker in mind just in case.
For the copying of clauses between blocs, this is only plagiarism in specific situations, where the delegate who wrote the clause is not part of the bloc that copied it, the writer did not give permission to copy the clause, and the clause is present in the second document is copied word for word. If the writer switches to another bloc and then uses the clauses on both resolutions, this tends to be a gray area, where some believe the clauses belong with the original bloc and the writer is plagiarizing, and others believe that it is completely fine. Regardless, the original bloc is always entitled to the clauses in that situation.
Lastly, while it can be perceived as helpful to lend your laptop to another delegate writing clauses, this can be a double-edged sword because if they cheat, it will look as if you were the one that cheated. If it is absolutely necessary to lend your computer to another delegate, watch them closely or be present when they are using it.
In Conference Strategies
In conference, reporting cheating is a balance between reporting before you are certain and being wrong (likely upsetting your chair) and reporting too late in the process, which can seem irrelevant or petty. Despite this, keep in mind that plagiarism is always a serious issue, and if you are certain of plagiarism it is never too late to report.
In simple cases like delegates passing out a prewritten resolution by hand in the first session, or including watermarks on a plagiarized document, it is good to be direct with the chair and bring up the document or pictures of it to the Dias as soon as possible in an unmoderated caucus, end of a session, or as an aside in the committee.
Only do this if it is absolutely certain that this is plagiarism or prewriting, or else it can backfire.
However, in more complicated cases the general strategy is to begin early, speak generally, and frequently. If you suspect any offense, usually a good way to begin is with a question to the chair at the end of a session (such as,“Is prewriting allowed?”), then follow up by asking them to do a general announcement to make sure that “everyone is informed”. If they ask why you are requesting an announcement just say that you want to be sure everyone is on the same page. From there, if the delegate stops the offense or removes the document from discussion, then you are done. However, if they do not, ask for another general requests, like a document history check or a plagiarism checker on all of the resolutions.
At this point it is probably one of the prewriting, early-writing offenses, or it is a conference where everything is on paper. In these cases, it is important to do your own research. A good way to go about this is sitting near the person you suspect of cheating to observe them, or asking them to share their documents. The final step is naming a bloc or specific delegate, which is often the most uncomfortable action to take. The important thing is to keep calm, remain level-headed, and say that you are worried about this delegate is possibly violating the rules, and ask them to look into it.
For most offenses, it will take a while for you to confirm that they did it, so it is vital to not get over-involved in the process and to not make rash comments to your peers or the chairs. These are all very serious issues, and false allegations can have extreme consequences, so it is important to try and have the chair issue warnings and do preliminary checks before you name blocs or individuals. Be sure to give up if the issue is not observable even after all the steps are taken. Unfortunately, academic dishonesty is difficult to prove in Model UN if you do not have hard evidence.
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