Model United Nations

Courtesy of Rebecca Saar

A year after Model United Nations at UCSD came together in 2006, the organization was hosting a competition in Eleanor Roosevelt College for over 170 high-school students with a passion for international relations.

When Rebecca Saar — current secretary general, a diplomatic moniker for president — and Vijaya Surampudi joined their freshman year, they decided to head a Home Conference Committee. The team was responsible for hosting the Model United Nations competition for high-school students.

“We had nothing in common — I was in Warren, she was in ERC — except for the fact that we were both really passionate about MUN,” Surampudi said.

In four short years, MUN at UCSD has become a solid leg of the organization at large, partnering with Eleanor Roosevelt College and hosting its own simulated United Nations debate competition — even earning the title of “best organization” at Eleanor Roosevelt College’s 2007-08 end-of-the-year awards ceremony.

“When we approached [former] Provost [Ann] Craig, she was really excited,” said Surampudi. “I think she liked that we were showing prospective students how great of a school UCSD was — especially ERC and the political-science department.”

The two-day conference — complete with guest speakers, a trained staff, complimentary breakfast, an all-day snack bar and a dance to follow the first day’s debate — drew over 200 student participants this year.

“It’s the fact that we’re trying to build UCSD’s reputation as a political-science school — everyone knows it as a science, engineering and tech school, but there’s also a good political-science department that we can represent through MUN,” said Saar.

And Home Conference is just a small part of the club’s activities. When members aren’t busy hosting competitions, they’re attending similar functions at other universities, drafting resolutions and competing for delegation awards (based on a point system measuring each ambassador’s ability to diplomatically cooperate with other member states). This year, MUN at UCSD was invited to Harvard’s annual five-day competition.

“Getting invited to a prestigious competition like Harvard’s is amazing — I mean, it’s filled with people who are passionate about international politics, and will be the ones eventually making international policy,” said Surampudi.