ELAC and Cal State LA’s Model U.N. forces unite

By Vicky Nguyen

East Los Angeles College and Cal State Los Angeles Model United Nation clubs forged an alliance at ELAC’s first hosted practice conference on Friday, March 17.

The theme of the conference was cyber security. Through a series of debates, negotiations, and caucuses, the delegates put together an agreed upon definition of cyber terrorism and a plan to fight against it.

At the end of the conference, superlatives were awarded to delegates who stood out. ELAC’s Model UN club gifted a certificate of participation to Emily Acevedo, political science professor and Model UN club advisor at Cal State LA.

This was the first time many of the students participated in a simulated conference. Jacob Jasso, co-chair for the conference, described it as “dipping (their) feet in the water.”

As many of the students were figuring out how to navigate their first conference, several drawn-out silences took place when delegates were unsure which step should be taken next. At other moments, there was chaos.

“I can tell the delegates are still pretty nervous, otherwise they would have talked more,” said Ricky Salgado, who was head chair at a conference for the first time. “It got a little out of hand at certain points,” he said.

“They were nervous at first, but I think seeing other students also not being 100% sure gave my students a lot of courage,” said Avecedo. She said this was an opportunity for students to learn from one another and establish friendships in addition to gaining familiarity with rules.

“I look forward to more opportunities to work together. I really do,” said Avecedo.

To prepare for the event, students researched the topic and their assigned country’s positions.

“In order to stay true to your country, you have to put aside your personal beliefs,” Model UN Club President Brenda Solis, said. “You have to put your country first.”

Solis participated as the U.S. delegate. While other representatives were more negotiating in their approach, the U.S. representative accused China and Russia of being cyber terrorist threats and urged other nations to follow U.S.-led plans. In trying to stay true to her country’s position, Solis stood out as one of the most aggressive delegates and was awarded most likely to be a dictator at the end of the conference.

“I strongly encourage everyone to participate in Model UN,” Solis said. “This is applied political science!”

The conference was held as an opportunity for students to practice in anticipation of larger Model UN simulations, including ones alongside thousands of other students around the country. While their practice conference lasted just over three hours long, larger conferences usually last three days and students would be required to find resolutions on several topics rather than just one.

Model UN club advisor Ken Chaiprasert approached Acevedo about two weeks prior to the conference to suggest the collaboration between their clubs. Chaiprasert says they plan to do this every year from now on.

ELAC’s Model UN club was started by Chaiprasert last Fall. The club meets on Thursdays at 12:10 PM in F7-111.

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