The Insider: Students solve crises through debate

March 22, 2013 9:00 AM

Greg Thomson

Did you know that the Model United Nations team at Tulane is ranked #15 in the nation? Through collegiate Model UN programs like Tulane’s, students are building their oratory skills and using creativity to compete in debates about international relations.

“I really think at the end of this semester when they do the rankings again, we’ll be able to move up,” says sophomore Sophie Parker, president of Tulane’s Model UN team. “The best thing about it is arriving at these conferences and having people know the merit of Tulane and that we can manage amazing debate tactics.”

Tulane’s Model UN team takes two trips each semester to attend conferences. At the conferences, teams compete in two forms of debate. Crisis committees involve fast-paced debate in which mock delegates must confront scenarios such as the Spanish influenza and devise solutions. The second, general assembly, is a very formal debate that is similar to the UN.

Parker says that students undergo heavy preparation in order to ensure their success at competitions.

“We practice 30-second debate exercises, we do speeches, we do proponent speeches, and we do negative speeches to make sure we feel confident,” she said. “Most kids come with binders and binders full of research and articles that they’ve printed out.”
The team usually practices twice a week for two hours. However, when a conference is approaching, the team practices three times a week.

During a conference at the University of California Berkeley earlier this month, Tulane’s Model UN team took home the outstanding small delegation award. Their competitors included Harvard, Stanford and Georgetown universities.

Greg Thomson is a Tulane sophomore studying communication.  

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