Model UN Hosts First Annual ‘GettMUN’ Conference
By Gauri Mangala, Assistant News Editor
Students from colleges around the area joined in the Science Center at Gettysburg College for the first annual GettMUN conference hosted by Gettysburg’s Model UN club on Saturday, March 31. Seven colleges from around the area registered to spend time at Gettysburg discussing the Yemeni Civil War and the Modernization of the Outer Space Treaty. Trinity Washington University, Temple University, Franklin and Marshall University, Lafayette College, Bloomsburg University, and Virginia Commonwealth University all sent delegates to work with Gettysburg Model UN and even a member of the upcoming class of 2022 of Gettysburg attended.
The development of GettMUN was spearheaded by Jack Lashendock ’20, Alison Lashendock ’20, and Marley Dizney Swanson ’18, working alongside members of Model UN to plan and execute the conference.
“I hope that this conference shows the Gettysburg community that we, as students and as global citizens, have a tremendous amount of power and potential to solve world issues,” remarked Dizney Swanson. “Seeing delegates from around the mid-Atlantic region debating about issues they were all clearly passionate about genuinely gave me hope that our generation will have a positive impact on the world.”
The challenge of Model UN advocating the ideals of the country one represents rather than those one holds personally to ensure a lively, realistic debate. Jack Lashendock was pleased with how the day went as a whole.
“I am very proud that this day ended up happening and that Gettysburg College was able to host this amazing opportunity for Gettysburgians and other students alike. We can put in so much planning, time, and resources, yet without the interest and commitment of other schools, this dream would not have been realized. Moreover, I am very proud of the team of students who spent half their weekend helping us to simulate the United Nations,” reflected Jack Lashendock. “Each position, the backroom and being a delegate, offers up its own challenges and opportunities for success. At GettMUN, I was so honored to have been a part of a successful team. The two women I worked closely with to make this happen – Marley and Alison – are so extremely talented and I am glad to have worked with them before they move on to do great things and take over the world!”
Rather than participating as delegates, the members of Model UN worked as backroom members and chairs and vice chairs of committees. Braden Megathlin ’21 considered the new task of vice chair of the Security Council committee to be a new, exciting challenge: “It’s a lot of fun and still is a learning experience. I’ve done previous conferences but even know I have learned more and more by being a vice chair. I can see a whole different side to this entire program.”
Members of the top-secret ‘back room’ was in charge of responding to crisis notes from delegates and coming up with crisis situations to throw at committees. From nerf-gun assassinations to aliens to a cameo from Vladimir Putin, the back room was never a dull place to be.
Alison Lashendock ’20, spent most of her day devising new ways to turn the tides of committees and even acting as an assassin. “About halfway through the day, we completely turned our United Nations Security Council into a crisis situation and had them dealing with a humanitarian crisis. We were incredibly surprised at their quick tendency to try and work together as a governing body – something we struggle to see in today’s world,” she explained.
The overall goal of Model UN as an institutional and educational conference is to prepare future leaders for the strong role that true diplomacy has on international politics. In choosing topics like Yemen and space policy, GettMUN provided a fresh take on that goal.
“I think that Yemen is a relevant topic right now just because it’s a crisis that has not been addressed by most of the world,” posited Dizney Swanson. “Syria is a ‘sexy’ topic in a very ironic sense of the word because everyone wants to give attention to it because has been so covered by the media. Yemen has largely been forgotten by the world because it isn’t covered by the media. By picking this, we are hoping to draw more attention to this.”
While this may have only been the first of what Model UN hopes to make an annual event at Gettysburg College, it showed great promise to be an event that the club and college can be proud of in the eyes of its organizers.
“[T]he success of anything is measured by those that work on it, and I am incredibly lucky to have had the chance to work with an amazing inaugural group,” Alison Lashendock said. “Going forward, I think improvements can come from growing our guests, and as a result, our staff. I am really excited to see where this will go in the coming years.”