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So You Didn’t Gavel: Now What?

So that power delegate won the gavel in your committee, and despite all your time and effort, you didn’t even get a verbal.

No matter how painful or unjust the loss was, this isn’t what you should be thinking. Burnout is counterproductive and one loss does not mean that you’re a bad delegate. Instead of feeling remorse for missed opportunities or spite for the best delegate, you should take time to reflect.

You have certainly worked hard in committee and should applaud yourself for that.

But the best delegate isn’t the one who has the best speeches or the best resolutions or even the best hair (although sometimes that counts); they’re the ones that combined all these strengths in a way that allowed them to dominate the room and successfully advance their goals.

Give them credit where it’s due, even though you really wanted that gavel for yourself. 

The first–and best–thing you can do when disappointing awards are announced is to reach out to your chair, dais, and, if applicable, your crisis director and backroom staff. Ask them for feedback and actually take notes to know what you did well and what you can work on. Talk to fellow delegates as well; you want an idea of what kind of impression you left on the room. Reaching out to the bloc you worked with in committee gives you a lot of information on your collaboration and reaching out to those you never talked to, tells you how far your message went. Last but not least, you want to talk to the delegates who won awards; congratulating them, but also strategically getting to know how they got so far in committee. Ask them simple questions, such as how they got their (absurd) resolution passed or how they assassinated that notable political leader.

Now that you have enough information on your and your opponents’ performances, actually write it out. Make a chart, a list, whatever works best for you (personally, I like to use the cheesy “hot” and “cold” lists that elementary school writing teachers made me make for essays). It’s tedious, but it will serve as an outline of what you need to do. Treat it kind of like preambulatory and operative clauses: your weaknesses (preambulatory clauses) should never outnumber your strengths (operatives). If they do, don’t fret: this just means you need more practice or research in a targeted area. If your main issue is a lack of substantive preparation, consider yourself lucky: that is an issue that’s fairly straight forward to address and subsequently correct.  It’s when your preambulatory clauses get very specific and your operatives do nothing to address them that growth becomes a challenge. Like a resolution, you want to see how you can use your existing strengths to address your weaknesses. Then you want to outline what you need to learn; it can be specific to your committee/position, or broad, encompassing basics like debate strategies or parliamentary procedure.

Once you’ve acknowledged the issue, there are a lot of resources for growth. Utilize your chair’s advice and if necessary, continue to ask them questions (most chairs are really friendly and happy to help out). You can even reach out to members of your Model UN team, especially Head Delegates and your faculty advisor. Online resources, like the All-American Model UN website, can address a lot of your general questions and can provide you the opportunity to reach out to someone to better answer your question. The best thing you can do to grow as a Model UN delegate is to just go to another conference, take advantage of your existing strengths and experiment with new strategies. Not gaveling at one conference just drives to do even better at the next and before you know it, you’ll bring home that gavel!

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