The creation of a Model United Nations club is a delicate, lengthy, and highly administrative process. But the rewards of doing so are endless; you create a home team in which you can practice all things Model UN, travel together to conferences nationwide (perhaps even worldwide!), create friendships, and spread awareness surrounding current foreign policy concerns through committee simulations.
I. The Very Beginning
If you are at an educational institution that does not have a Model United Nations club, you may choose to take on the responsibility of building one from the ground up. It is up to the student who desires to create the club to lobby for its existence to the school administration, acquire funding, and officially obtain officialized club status on campus. This goes the same for any educational institution, regardless of if it’s a college, high school, or middle school campus.
A Note on Responsibility
Furthermore, recognize that if you are the single individual that desires the club to be created, you must be prepared to take chief administrative and leadership responsibility during the club approval process and most likely further down the road when the club is established. Since you might go to a school where Model UN isn’t popular, many teachers, administrators, and other students may depend on you for leadership and setting the tone of the club going forward. If you are lucky enough to be a member of a group of students that all desire to take part in the implementation process, the daunting task of leading the club can be distributed more evenly. But that aside, you may be the best candidate for a leadership board position on the team since you likely hold the most knowledge about the process, requirements, and activity.
Logistics & Paperwork
First, reach out to the prevailing authority that is in charge of recognizing campus clubs. This may be the principal, an office administrator, a teacher who is the class representative to the administration, or even the front desk person in the main office. If you are on a college campus, this process will most likely be outlined on the campus website, as the creation of new clubs on campus is fairly commonplace. Inquire about the process to establish a new club on campus, and fill out all required paperwork. Do your best to ensure all information is as accurate and simplified as possible: this will heighten your chances of club approval. The required paperwork may include a club proposal, student signature list to ensure campus interest, and the list of teachers or professors who are willing to be an advisor. The quality of your club proposal will be the deciding factor as to whether or not the club gets approved. These proposals usually outline the structure of the club, what it accomplishes, the added positives to the community, and a mission statement. Spend a good amount of time crafting the proposal: it matters greatly. Have different people read it over to revise language and improve the message. A club proposal is a piece of formal writing that makes an outstanding first impression on the administrator and will decide how much dedication the office will put into ensuring this proposal gets accepted. Second, thoroughly poll and inquire with your peers in regards to the probability of them joining a Model UN club. If the minimum amount of signatures is surpassed, this creates an even better impression to those who will review the paperwork by showing a clear demand for the club’s creation. If utilized well, this can increase the chances of getting generous club funding down the road. Everything is interconnected in this process of determining the status of the club, so ensure you complete all aspects of the application dutifully.
Choosing a Faculty Advisor
Finding a proper advisor is important as well. The advisor is often a teacher or professor who aids the club and leadership board in meetings, teaches training in meetings, and chaperones on trips. This adult is in charge of the club administratively as well, and can lobby on its behalf to the administration. Whether that’s desiring a change in rooms for meetings or requesting additional funding for an overnight conference, ensure you pick someone who you know will be responsible. But more importantly, the advisor must be able to dedicate the amount of necessary time to meetings and travel. Model UN makes this hard as the number of weekend conferences can create a strain on selecting an advisor, but if you do find one, they will most likely be ecstatic to be part of a club as passionate in nature as Model UN.
When the club is given the stamp of approval, you will probably be issued a monetary amount the club can utilize for the academic year. If it isn’t sufficient enough to support your ambitions, be prepared to lobby the school board for an increase in funding or the relative administrator. If you decide to speak to the school board, contact your principal to find out the appropriate means of doing so. Oftentimes, the Board of Education is lenient and generous if a student or group requests more funding as long as there are genuine reasons for the increase in support and large support for such requests. If your request is declined, be prepared to lobby the Board of Education specifically for conference funding, as this may be more successful if there is a tangible event you can advocate for and specifically list the expenses you need help with. Regardless, inquire with your selected advisor about such endeavors because the process varies greatly from school to school. Such issues are especially handled differently in private versus public schools, seeing how differently they operate their daily administrative duties.
II. Get Going
Recruit Some Members
Generate some new members! If you are lucky, you may have 15 or more students who are willing to become active members immediately. But, there is an immediate fall in member count after the first several meetings. This is to account for a dip in interest or other member obligations to additional clubs that may require them to drop out, so it is smart to ensure you have a large initial member count to cushion your club following. You can advocate for club membership by asking relevant professors and teachers that instruct social studies or political science classes to hand out flyers and mention meeting dates. This ensures that the target audience, people who are interested in global events, are knowledgeable about the existence of the club. Make sure that everything you are distributing properly explains what Model UN is since it can be confusing to those unfamiliar. Further, encourage the spread of the club by asking people to bring friends as well! Single individuals may feel unsure of going to a new club meeting they never attended and may feel socially more comfortable with a friend. This doubles the chances of members sticking around if they feel a sense of community and familiarity around them.
Hold the First Meeting
Once meetings are cleared to begin by the advisor, ensure to pick a proper day and time that doesn’t contradict with too many other activity meetings. Most clubs operate at the same time on the same day in the same room every week. Consistency is key when ensuring member turnout. Carving out a time unique to Model UN lessens the stress of members who desire to maintain attendance and increases the ease of new members being able to join. Weekly meetings are greatly preferred over biweekly as the training skills that MUN requires are something to be gradually grown; from public speaking and confidence to the articulation of complex foreign policy solutions. A weekly training session during meetings is required to adequately give opportunities for delegates to grow and learn in the skill of debate, especially if you see it in the club’s future to travel and begin to gradually start winning awards. Training can make or break a MUN team, and many activities can be found on the All-American Model UN website to help train delegates both old and new. Be sure to rotate training exercises, perhaps two in a session, for delegates to stay on their toes and ensure all their skill sets are being hit. Notable skills that must be exercised are knowledge of current foreign policy issues, public speaking, articulation, committee strategy, and resolution tips.
For most teams, fundraising is an inescapable part of the Model UN experience. The vast majority of school teams don’t have the luxury of relying solely on the school administration to provide sufficient funding. As a result, Model UN teams all across the world get innovative with their fundraising approaches to ensure that their delegates get the chance to travel and attend conferences. There are numerous ways to fundraise: among the most common are bake sales, t-shirt sales, movie nights, etc. A more efficient, but more difficult, way to fundraise is by acquiring a sponsor (a local business, for example). Fundraising early on is essential to the success of the club. Don’t wait until the week before a conference to begin financial planning. Club leadership demands proactiveness.
III. Plan for the Future
A key part of setting up a new club is holding leadership elections. A president, also called a Secretary-General in Model UN lingo, can find it incredibly difficult to single-handedly manage all club duties. A Model UN team will function more efficiently if responsibility is divided amongst several highly-motivated leaders. The most common leadership structure for a Model UN club contains the following positions: a Secretary-General, an Under-Secretary-General, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. These positions provide a natural division of tasks to ensure the club is well funded, well trained, and well organized.
Ensure to inform your club about the availability of these positions and host elections within 2 or 3 weeks of the first meeting. It is essential for your leadership board to be established early so you can make a quicker transition into dealing with fundraising events, conference planning, and training.
Outline a Conference Schedule
Conference planning is one of the most difficult terrains for club leadership to navigate along with the advisor. Every student wants to attend as many conferences as possible in a season, but it can be incredibly stressful to plan–and pay for–these trips. Different costs are associated with out-of-state conferences versus local. This can be connected to hotel and flight costs, increased delegation fees at larger and more established conferences, and dining costs. The feasibility of your conference options are dependent on a few things. First is the initial funding your club is given, and second is the generosity of your school administration in covering trip expenses. Lastly, and by far the most important, is the amount of effort placed into fundraising initiatives. Fundraising is the most critical component because it’s actually within your control. Keep in mind that it may be difficult for a brand new Model UN club to attend out-of-state conferences within the first year: but it’s not impossible. Through the diligent organization of fundraising efforts, anything can be achieved. Some teams find it better suited for their finances to attend multiple local conferences in a season, and others may desire to only attend 2-3 large scale national conferences a season. It all depends on the desired outcome, and what value you draw from local versus national conferences. If experience and practice is the most important goal, then a longer series of local conferences may be better suited for your team. However, if your delegates are ready for a more competitive experience, it may be more worth it to save up to travel. No matter how you choose to approach it, conference planning is one of the most important factors in club leadership. Do not neglect this task until the last minute, else attending any conference at all will be unlikely. Begin these conversations with your faculty advisor and other club leadership as soon as possible.
To be a successful team in the arena of Model UN, organization is the single most important asset. Communicate openly with your faculty advisor, delegates, club leadership, and school administration. Be vocal about your passion for the extracurricular so other peers are inclined to join! An active Model UN team has the potential to completely transform the academic attitude of a school to be more intellectually diverse and passionate while sparking friendly competition through conferences and debate practice. The addition of this activity to your school’s collection of clubs is something the student community won’t regret, so get going!
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