Students restart University Model United Nations club
The Justice interviewed the vice president of the new Model UN club.
A Model United Nations club has started up at Brandeis after a period of dormancy and is welcoming new members. The president is Oona Wood ’23, the treasurer is Tavorr Vaxman-Magid ’25, the communications director is Lauren Rifas ’24 and the vice president is Risley.
After its first interest meeting three weeks ago, the club is currently meeting every Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center. “The current structure is a little informal,” Noah Risley ’24 explained in a Nov. 16 interview with the Justice. In the first full meeting on Nov. 14, the club went over updates for next semester’s conferences, discussed basic parliamentary procedures and provided an example of a moderated caucus, a form of debate typical for the UN.
“Next semester is when things will really pick up,” Risley said. Brandeis Model UN is planning to go to two Model UN conferences in the spring: Harvard National Model United Nations in February, and University of Chicago’s Intercollegiate Model United Nations Conference in April.
According to Risley, it took a while “to get the e-board off the ground.” They explained that the club was chartered a few years ago, before they came to Brandeis, but with COVID-19, graduation and lack of interest, e-board and club membership dwindled. At the start of this year, the remaining few e-board members, including Wood, were “tasked with doing everything at once.” However, through email recruitment, “me, Lauren and Tavorr came aboard and once we got organized... Now we can be a club,” Risley said.
“We’re obviously really excited about the freshman class because that’s most of our membership base,” Risley said. There were about 15 to 16 people at the interest meeting, and there are plans to send 20 people to the Harvard event. “For a club that just formally got started again, we're having really active participation, which is really good to see. There was some spirited discussion, which made me happy, because it wasn’t just the e-board talking,” Risley said.
Risley talked about their prior Model UN experiences. In high school, they did the club for three years and became the leader of their high school chapter. “It was my favorite extracurricular,” Risley said. They noted, “That’s the story for a lot of people that come to Brandeis Model UN..On the other hand, there are some people in the club that haven’t done Model UN at all, and just think it sounds cool.”
In meetings, Risley explained that the eventual goal is to have formalized practice rounds similar to the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society, where club members would prepare information on an assigned country. However, for this semester, Brandeis Model UN is focusing on the formalized intricacies of parliamentary procedure, so they’re sticking with simple topics such as “Is ice cream good?” or “What do you like about Brandeis?”
Risley concluded by saying, “I would emphasize that this is not just a ‘me-thing.’ Oona, Tavorr and Lauren do a lot of really good work and I want to recognize them for that. Also, we're very open. We want as many people to come as possible. [We’re] very happy to get this new club up and running and hope to eventually be as competitive as Debate and Mock Trial are in terms of national rankings.”