WRITTEN BY: Stanley Treivus, Outgoing Vice-President of UNSOC
Photos By: Joanna Amores & Stanley Treivus
Nearly three years ago, I, like many others, came to U of T not knowing what to expect. Being a first-year at the time and not living in residence, brought forth the anxiety that comes from a school of this size. It was also of no assurance to me that my first year politics professor would tell the entire audience that indeed, we are all just a bunch numbers, and we would have to look out for ourselves. The stereotype of UofT lacking community is nothing short of true. Unless one gets the privilege of living in residence, most commuters rely on clubs and associations to find their place here at the university. It was during Frosh week that I looked most forward to clubs fair, an event in which I signed up for more clubs than I knew I could handle. But it was one club that gave me the opportunity to not only find a community, but to get involved in expanding it; the United Nations Society. The idea of Model UN has always attracted me. Being able to meet other like-minded students were shared an interest in politics and global issues, while having an institutionalized medium to discuss these issues, through Model UN conferences, is what pushed me to show up to the first training session without knowing a single person. Little did I know that most of the people I would meet and become friends with in the next couple years, would come from this small, but powerful MUN community.
I entered my third year as the vice-president of the United Nations Society, and I had already gotten involved extensively with the other MUN clubs such as UTMUN, NAMUN, and SSICsim. Together we form the core of our community, and bringing people together has been the goal of me and my entire executive. We knew that Model UN was more than just representing a country in a committee, but a means for people to make new friends, and to enhance their experience here at U of T. The wonderful thing about MUN is that everyone can be a part of it. Although some may be intimidated by the idea of public speaking or debating, we’ve done our best to create an environment in where everyone can learn and practice in front of people of whom they know and trust, and we’ve instilled a strong collective sense of accommodation that is essential for those who find it most difficult.
Our work this year has brought together more people than ever before. We broke our club’s records on membership and attendance for our training sessions, socials, and conference trips. Not only that, but we made sure to bring together people from UTM and UTSC, and we’ve finally have been able to slowly dismantle the cliquishness that permeated through each MUN club. We organized our first ever MUN Frosh trip earlier in the year, in which we brought together nearly 30 new members to Hart House Farms, in where we built bonds, learned about MUN and had tons of fun. We broke expectations for training sessions, where our rooms would fill up every week with people eager to learn about MUN and debate, and then coming out to our lively socials afterwards. We’ve signed up more people than ever for conferences, and brought huge crowds to conferences at Queen’s and McGill, as well as our own in-house conferences.
Model UN gives people the amazing opportunity to bridge their academics with a club, where people can apply and use their knowledge and passions, while doing it with an amazing group of people of whom are friends. As vice-president, I learned that the best way to be a leader is to not expose yourself as some authoritative-figure, but to sit down with your members, get to know them, and make them feel welcome. It’s extremely important to make sure that not only the exec, but your entire membership feel that this club is also theirs. MUN happens because of its members, and convincing them that they have a sense of ownership alongside their peers, is key to making community happen.