USF’s Model United Nations Competes in LA

USF’s Model United Nations team were amongst 400 participants at USC’s TrojanMUN conference. Top row, from left to right: Luis Párraga Ávalos, Jerry Tang, Yja Cummings, Katie Thurman, Wyatt del Valle, Natalie Ryu, Dalton Maggs. Bottom row, from left to right: Aileen Robles, Leilah Brown, Kamila Portero, Chisom Okorafor. Photo courtesy of Katie Thurman/MUN.

USF’s Model United Nations (MUN) team flew to Los Angeles this weekend for their first competition of the school year at the University of Southern California’s TrojanMUN conference. Hosted at the DoubleTree Hilton in downtown Los Angeles, 12 team members spent four days in debate and collaboration with roughly 400 participants from colleges and universities across the country. 

USF delegates competed in the conference for the first time since 2020 with a “completely new team and e-board,” according to Yja Cummings, president of MUN. The conference was composed of a total of 13 committees that fell under the General Assembly, Specialized Bodies, and Crisis Committees. Across the board of committees, delegates debate about past or present global issues or events, and crises pertaining to specific industries, people, or countries. The special committees for this year included some more domestic topics, like the construction of EPCOT at Disney World and the Academy Awards Selection Committee for the 2024 Oscars. 

Dons delegates represented countries such as Chile, the United Arab Emirates, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Thailand, and Liechtenstein. Those not embodying countries represented news publications like South China’s Morning Post and the Wall Street Journal. Wynn P. Thomas, the first African American production designer in the history of films, who for the purposes of the competition was portrayed as the Academy’s vice president, was represented by Katie Thurman, a junior politics major and vice president of MUN. 

Delegates within their respective committees were tasked with resolutions that focus on real or hypothetical issues which directly affect the people, companies, or countries they represent. In the Sixth Legal Committee, delegates worked to reform the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to be more efficient in holding UN representatives accountable for criminal accountability, by creating “more regional courts so that cases are processed much faster,” said Cummings, who worked within the committee. 

“It’s very interesting going to conferences when there are major global issues going on,” said Cummings, who is a junior computer science major. In light of the Israel-Hamas War, which began Oct. 7, according to ABC News, representatives applied their reforms to the ICJ’s courts with the current conflict in mind. 

“Normally in MUN history when there’s major issues, and if somehow those countries tie into issues spoken about at conference, unfortunately those topics get changed or there’s a lot more restrictions on what you can say,” said Cummings. “With TrojanMUN this year, they didn’t emphasize that rule, and many people spoke about the situation respectfully, and really used it as a key point in why we should be discussing [this] right now, and why we should reform the ICJ in general.” 

At the end of the conference, an awards ceremony took place to honor delegates who stood out in their performance. This year, Thurman was awarded Outstanding Delegate within the Oscars committee. 

The team will compete in more conferences during the spring semester. Cummings said, “We live in a climate right now where global issues are so politicized, and it’s stuff that our generation wants to talk about — and that’s what you can do at Model UN.” 

Editor’s Note: Foghorn Opinion Editor Chisom Okorafor is a member of MUN and won the award for “Best Delegate in a Press Corporation” for her representation of the South China Morning Press. 

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