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MUN: Kicking ass, and taking Ivy names

November 6, 2008

As the fight song came to an end and chants of “Hoya Saxa” echoed throughout the halls of Yale University this past weekend, the Georgetown International Relations Club (IRC) secured its eighth consecutive victory on the national Model United Nations circuit. Georgetown defeated the likes of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago and has now confirmed its position as the #1 Model UN team in the nation. But so what?

Let’s start with the basics. Model UN, traditionally simulating only the United Nations, has grown over the years to include a variety of present-day and historic simulations ranging from national cabinets to election campaigns to the Ministry of Magic (really). Students represent countries or play various ministers (be it Henry Kissinger or Napoleon Bonaparte). They are judged by the host university, and awards are presented at the conference’s end. Tens of thousands of high school and college students participate in Model UN worldwide.

Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service is one of the leading undergraduate schools for the study of international affairs, and Georgetown is located in the nation’s capital. One would assume that Georgetown should naturally dominate the collegiate Model UN circuit.

Unfortunately, until two years ago, we didn’t.

Entering as a freshman three years ago, Georgetown’s Model UN program was in disrepair. It had been a decade since Georgetown had won a major conference. The best schools on the circuit were Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Penn, and West Point, and none of them considered Georgetown as worthy competition. Word has it that many schools called Georgetown a “B” team for laughs.

Yet just as Hoya basketball saw a resurgence, making it to the Final Four in 2007, so did the International Relations Club. It started with an extensive recruitment campaign to expand our membership. The club now boasts over 300 members.

The next step was to ensure that our delegates took the Model UN team seriously. In the infamous words of Allen Iverson, we started “talking about practice.” Starting last year, a dedicated group of IRC members known as “C-Staff” took on the responsibility of training and preparing our Model UN program with conviction. The results were instantly noticeable.

Over the span of the last year and a half, Georgetown has won eight consecutive national conferences. These include conferences hosted by Columbia, Yale, Penn, Princeton, and the University of Virginia. Georgetown has defeated every major competitive school from Harvard to West Point. Much credit is due to the current Conferences Coordinator Jeffrey Morshed and his C-Staff for the continued success.
Yet our victories are more meaningful than mere trophies and accolades. What makes these victories so significant is that they were accomplished in the spirit of Georgetown. We did not merely try to emulate the tactics of the Ivy League schools. We stayed true to our roots at Georgetown and developed a new Georgetown style that some may call “mad chill.” Georgetown delegates brilliantly command debate in committee, but still know how to have a great time outside of debate. A new culture has emerged in our Model UN Program, and we are confident that this is something that will continue to flourish.

The Georgetown International Relations Club has played a significant role in my Georgetown experience. The most important thing is that we have remained true to the creed of the fight song in overcoming the likes of Yale, Navy, Cornell, Harvard, Holy Cross and Princeton. Here’s to the yell that wins the day, the “Hoya, Hoya Saxa” for the dear old Blue and Gray.

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Renee Thibodeaux

Do you have a brother that played drums in New Orleans and drove a taxi?