Max Neuman, ’16
For four days in mid-April, BHSEC students joined hundreds of students from around the world in Ithaca, New York, to compete at the Cornell Model United Nations Conference (CMUNC). Topics covered by BHSEC students included extraterrestrial sovereignty in the 1990s, the Iranian nuclear talks, reform of the Peacekeeper corps, the Spanish conquest of Mexico, and the shifting landscape of newspaper journalism. Members of the team represented Romania, Paraguay, Uruguay, Belize, the Dominican Republic, conquistador Juan Garay, Aztec leader Quau-Quau, and the editor of the Asia section of The New York Times. Several students took home awards. Alberta Devor, a Y2 who represented Romania, received a verbal commendation from her chairperson. Madeleine Northfield, 10th, received an honorable mention, representing the Dominican Republic. The other two award recipients were also members of the secretariat, tasked with organizing the BHSEC delegation to the conference. Under-Secretary of Conferences Liana Van Nostrand, Y1, representing the editor of the Times Asia section, and Secretary General Everett Pelzman, Y2, representing Cuau Cuau, both received honorable mentions.
The conference was notable for its high proportion of rookie delegates. Of the sixteen students competing, six had never been to a major conference before. Ms. Northfield said that she was “impressed by the caliber, dedication, quality, and improvement of younger delegates.” Herself the youngest delegate to win an award, she elaborated, “After we’ve graduated, they will carry the team.” One of the rookie delegates, Chris Stauffer, who represented Belize, said that he was reassured that he “wasn’t the only delegate without prior experience.” Still, every award taken home by the BHSEC delegation came from a veteran member, and only one was won by a member of the high school program. As the delegates that made their debut at CMUNC gain experience and expertise, Ms. Van Nostrand is “really excited to work with them next year.” Currently running for Secretary General of the team, she said that she plans on “helping this team become more a part of the Bard Model UN family and helping this team go to more conferences.”
The trip to Cornell also afforded delegates a chance to explore a slice of one of America’s most notable college towns. CMUNC happened to coincide with Cornell’s Accepted Students’ Week, and so the University put its best foot forward to all visitors. Team veterans who had been part of the BHSEC CMUNC delegation in 2013 were also elated to return to College Town Bagels, a beloved eatery that purveyed a variety of sandwiches to worn-out competitors.
In addition to providing a debut for six delegates, CMUNC was the last major conference for four graduating seniors, including three members of the secretariat. All of them are four year members of the Model UN team who helped to shape its members and run it as a team. Ms. Devor, one of the departing delegates, called CMUNC a good “culminating experience.”
As the Model UN season begins to wind down, the team is beginning to look towards next year. Inspired by his first experience in the crisis committee at CMUNC, Mr. Pelzman is organizing an intramural crisis committee for mid-May. Unlike typical debate in the United Nations, crisis committees are more fast paced and reactionary, placing value on quick thinking and improvisation. The team will also hold elections to determine next year’s leadership soon after the crisis.