Mercyhurst takes 1st at Model UN

Mercyhurst’s Model United Nations team brought home a first place trophy from the 21st annual Lake Erie International Model United Nations (LEIMUN) Conference held in Huron, OH, Nov. 6 through Nov. 9.

The team was comprised of student volunteers and students from Mercyhurst’s International Organization and Diplomacy political science class taught by Lena Surzhko-Harned, Ph.D., which requires conference participation. Surzhko-Harned is the team advisor.

Students represented various countries and bodies of the UN at the conference.

According to Surzhko-Harned, there are six committees at each conference, including two to three security councils, a historical security council or crisis committee, two to three ad hoc committees, two to three regional bodies, a Delegate A-Team and a Delegate Press Corps. Each committee contains approximately 15 to 30 countries.

“What you do is research the country, determine their policies, and develop an understanding of their parliamentary procedure so you can represent the views of those countries in a specific body,” said AJ Zahuranec, senior Intelligence Studies and Political Science major. “You have to motion to speak, motion to vote. There’s a long series of rules and procedures.”

Zahuranec was on the “Mystery” Security Council, which consisted of 15 states. Students did not know which country they would receive when entering the body, so they had to research all 15 beforehand.

Representation can change during the conference, according to Zahuranec, who began representing Argentina, but ended representing China.

The LEIMUN Corporation appointed committee chairs who evaluated the participants for performance in portrayal of their country, caucusing and resolution writing and debate parliamentary procedure. Teams were then given an overall score based on members’ performances.

“I love the competitions,” said Zahuranec. “They are a really phenomenal way to learn about public policy issues, gain understanding about issues around the world, and also gain interpersonal skills.”

Senior Stefani Baughman, Intelligence Studies and Political Science major with a concentration in international relations, is in the International Organization and Diplomacy class.

She represented the Russian Federation for the UN Security Council at the conference.

According to Baughman, Surzhko-Harned signed up for certain countries and councils at the conference and students on the team were able to pick among those.
“I really like these conferences because you get to learn in a different setting than the classroom,” said Baughman.

“Participating in these types of conferences adds a competitive element and makes it more interesting. No two conferences are the same, that’s for sure.”

Surzhko-Harned said Model UN is beneficial to students with an interest in international relations and diplomacy or those who want to learn about global issues and international law.

“This conference also allows them to hone a whole bunch of other skills: research, writing, speaking, interactions with others, trying to build coalitions, trying to work towards solutions, problem solving,” said Surzhko-Harned.

“These are all very important skills that students can take into any field that they decide to pursue as a career.”