COC Model UN handle different crisis scenarios during conference

Brylee Flores, COC Model UN member, stepped into the a meeting with "Truman's cabinet" about a possible "atomic bombing" during a conference on Saturday. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Members of the the College of the Canyons Model United Nations team acted out their various roles during the COCMUN 2019 conference in Mentry Hall on Saturday.

The team’s 22 members, along with 50 alumni and transfer students from UCLA, UC Davis and California State University Northridge, among others, formed four different committees focused on different scenarios and crises that would require delegation, debate and voting.

“Essentially it’s a form of role playing, where students do some research and then act out whatever characters they’ve been assigned,” said faculty advisor Phil Gussin. “It is an amazing experience.”

The committees included a General Assembly much like the real United Nations, a Security Council to create binding resolutions for peace-keeping missions, a specialized General Assembly focused on the implications of Marvel superheroes on countries around the world and a crisis group centered around President Harry S. Truman’s cabinet in 1945, which focused on whether or not to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Megan Boye, a student who served as secretary general, said crisis updates were developed in a backroom, then reported to students in each committee.

“They take what’s going on in committee and put it into the form of an update,” she said. “So people working in the backroom will come in, they will act out something – ‘Oh, the president’s been shot,’ ‘There was this giant love affair between Eisenhower and Robert Oppenheimer.’ It could really go on, the options are endless.”

The goal of the conference is to build skills in cooperation, diplomacy, speaking and leadership, according to Boye and Gussin. Boye said she was initially very shy and held herself back when she first joined Model UN. At the conference, she played several other integral roles for several of the committees.

Gussin said this role has been the most rewarding element of his teaching career, to sit back and watch his students grow and become a family.

“I never did this while I was in college, but I’ve watched these students grow both intellectually but also personally, because being involved in any academic competition where you find yourself surrounded by very intelligent people who you’re competing with,” he said. “It brings incredible highs and some devastating lows.”

Model UN is a course offered through COC’s Department of Political Science.

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