U students participate in California mock U.N. conference

MBy Kathryn Bailey members of the University’s United Nations Student Association joined hundreds of students from universities across the country Thursday in San Francisco to participate in a mock U.N. conference.

At the University of California-Berkeley Model U.N. conference, 18 Minnesota students played the role of representatives from six nations. They debated and drew up resolutions for controversial issues such as security in international waters and the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

“It’s very important now to know how the U.N. works,” said senior Elyse Aasen, the University chapter’s head delegate at the convention. “Especially because everything about the world revolves around the U.N. so much now.”

Over the course of four days, delegates representing different nations try to gain approval for a host of different resolutions.

Working together with students from all over the nation to pass resolutions is a highlight of the conference, Aasen said.

“It’s great because you get to meet so many different people,” she said. “You learn a lot about communication and the diplomatic process.”

Aasen said United Nations Student Association members conducted several fundraising efforts last semester, such as selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts around campus to pay for the group’s registration at the conference. Each member paid for his or her own flight while the group covered each delegate’s $50 registration fee.

In addition to fundraising, United Nations Student Association members spent a great deal of time preparing for the actual conference, Aasen said. Members were required to write a one to two page paper detailing their assigned country’s position on a specific issue.

Sophomore Emily Souza said joining the United Nations Student Association on campus and attending conferences are great investments.

The group, which strives to promote awareness of the United Nations and the international system, has enabled Souza to participate in assemblies and learn about other cultures, she said.

“I want to do this for a living, so I think it’s worth the money. The conferences themselves are a lot of fun,” Souza said.

The Berkeley conference ended Monday, but the association is already preparing for the next Model U.N. conference at Macalester College this spring.

“(The United Nations Student Association) is a wonderful way to open up to the world,” Aasen said. “Anybody is welcome to come.”

Kathryn Bailey is a freelance writer. The freelance editor welcomes comments at [email protected]