Model U.N. brings international experience to NIU

Shezad Merchant, political science graduate student, writes a resolution at the American Model United Nations [AMUN] conference in St. Louis. For more information about the club, email

By Leah Spagnoli

DeKALB | In November, Indonesia walked away from the American Model United Nations [AMUN] conference in Chicago with two “Outstanding Delegation” awards. NIU’s Model UN club represented Indonesia and was awarded for their representation in the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] and the Commission on the Status of Women.

Every Wednesday at 5 p.m., a group of about 40 people meet in DuSable 280 for Model United Nations.

“Model UN is an undergraduate club that attends a national conference each semester in a simulation of the United Nations,” said Richard Walsh, president of NIU Model UN. “We pick a country every semester, research how to be diplomats for that specific country, then compete against other colleges and universities who do the same thing.”

Each semester select students in the Model UN club compete in a national conference against other schools where the members can put their skills to the test.

This past February, the club came back to DeKalb with three “Honorable Mention” awards.

There is also a miniature conference held at NIU as a practice for the whole club; instead of the all the members acting as one country, each individual person or small group act as a country, Walsh said.

“[Model UN] is a great experience and allows for great connections in and out of school,” said Ross Salerno, treasurer of NIU Model UN. “It creates a nice forum for public speaking skills and bright creativity.”

Each spring the club invites students to come to meetings to learn about the club and how it works.

“It’s like Model UN for dummies,” Walsh said. “You don’t need to know anything about the club when you walk in the door, we’ll teach you.”

The meetings specify in learning about what is going on in world politics and becoming more familiar with the concept of Model UN. Mini and national conferences are where the members get to put their knowledge to the test.

“[Model UN] is a really cool way for people interested in politics nationally and internationally to apply what they learn in the classroom,” said Robin Waters, secretary of NIU Model UN. “The group also allows you to meet people that have similar interests and helps with networking.”

On April 9 in the Holmes Student Center, Model UN will hold a mini-conference where other students are welcome to see how the club works if they are interested in joining. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The topic up for debate is “Enhancement of international cooperation, with regards to unilateral coercive measures, in the field of human rights.”

“We feel this is a really relevant topic considering the recent democratic uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa and hopefully will interest a lot of new people,” Walsh said.