Model United Nations San Antonio

Equity and Inclusion Plan

INTRODUCTION & RATIONALE

 

The skills, knowledge, and professional development opportunities that MUN offers students are absolutely unparalleled. The challenge is ensuring that these opportunities are distributed in an equitable fashion. For a quarter of a century, MUNSA has been a leader in the MUN community, and we pride ourselves on the quality conference experience that we provide each year. We recognize that there are still deep inequities and imbalances that have persisted in the MUN community, despite the emphasis the activity places on progress, collaboration, and diversity. Addressing the systemic barriers of economic inequality and discrimination that find themselves reflected in MUN will take a substantial effort and collective action on the part of conferences, teams, and delegates everywhere, and it is by no means is it a problem that can be solved overnight, but we must nevertheless work towards creating a more inclusive environment that remains true to the values of the United Nations: collaboration, diplomacy, development, and equity.

 

Recognizing MUNSA’s role as a prominent organization and conference in the MUN community, it is our hope that we will be able to do our part and chart a course towards a more equitable MUN. Below you will find our plan for creating a more accessible conference. The plan focuses on three major elements–cost barriers, discrimination in committees, and lack of informational resources–that serve as major obstacles to achieving long-lasting equity and how our conference will address those barriers moving forward. The goals of the Equity and Inclusion Plan are to (1) address the economic and resource barriers that prohibit delegates from participating in MUNSA, (2) combat discrimination and underrepresentation within the conference itself, and (3) multiply our impact by working with other MUN organizations to ensure equity and inclusion.

 

Sincerely,

The MUNSA XXV Secretariat, Staff, and Sponsors

SUMMARY OF MUNSA EQUITY AND INCLUSION PLAN

 

In order to make the MUNSA conference more accessible, the MUNSA XXV Secretariat has:

  • Reduced conference fees for MUNSA XXV in order to accommodate those schools and families financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Expanded the Horizons Scholarship for delegates attending MUNSA XXV.
  • Taken measures to make the list of countries represented at MUNSA less Eurocentric and allow for more diverse voices to be heard in expanded-capacity committees.
  • Created a unified Conference Ethics and Anti-Harassment Code that outlines specific forms of harassment and discrimination and explicity condemns discrimination within MUNSA committees.
  • Trained members of the MUNSA staff in recognizing violations of the above Conference Ethics and Anti-Harassment Code.
  • Implemented an anonymous Conduct Complaint Form to report instances of discrimination and harassment.
  • Expressed a commitment to connecting new delegations with the support and resources they need to have a successful MUN team.

 

 

The above bullet points are representative of only the major items that the MUNSA Conference has taken to promote equity and inclusion. For more details, please read the full plan below. Feel free to reach out to our USG of External Affairs, Maya Mackey, with any questions (munsaisa@gmail.com or mmackey4212@stu.neisd.net).

MODEL UNITED NATIONS SAN ANTONIO PLAN FOR EQUITY AND INCLUSION 

 

  • Cost Barriers in Model United Nations

 

 

Model UN is an expensive activity. From conference fees to hotels to business attire, students are continually asked to pay incredible amounts of money to participate in the international debates they love, and even more money if they wish to commemorate their experiences with conference merchandise. 

 

The immediate costs of participating in MUN, however, only scratch the surface of the larger underlying disparity in economic opportunity that limits the ability of many students and schools to participate in MUN. Schools with generous funding for their MUN teams are more able to afford coaching, resources, and more expensive conferences, which translates into more MUN experience. By contrast, schools who struggle with funding may have difficulty covering conference fees and travel expenses. This brings us to our first challenge: underrepresentation occurs when students are prohibited from being delegates in the first place. Participation is limited by economic constraints and by a lack of resources and coaching, which will be addressed in section two (2) of the plan.

 

The steps that MUNSA will take to address cost barriers are as follows. Please keep in mind that a portion of these price cuts are due to MUNSA XXV being an online conference:

 

  1. For MUNSA XXV, the combined fee for registering a school and two sponsors has been reduced to about 30% of the original cost, from $200 to $55 dollars in response to financial challenges schools may be facing related to COVID-19.

 

  1. For MUNSA XXV, our delegate price has been cut more than half, from $80 to $30 per student in order to accommodate the financial needs of delegations and schools affected by the pandemic. The delegate fee includes a t-shirt so that each delegate can have a physical memento to commemorate their conference experience without an additional cost.

 

  1. We have expanded the Horizons Scholarship by well over 300% to better serve even more devoted students for whom cost may be a barrier to participating in MUNSA.

 

  1. Title I schools will qualify for a fee waiver for any pre-conference training programs run by the MUNSA organization.

 

  1. For delegates who may struggle with the expenses of formal wear, the MUNSA XXV Secretariat has created a bank of lightly used or new formal wear that San Antonio delegates can choose a conference outfit from. Details on this program will be forthcoming through our sponsor mailing list. 

Discrimination in Committee

 

A second barrier to equity in MUN is discrimination and underrepresentation in committee. This can take on a more passive form, such as the tendency of committees to feature mostly countries from the Global North, topics that derive from a generalized perception of a region or country, and a monopolization of speaking time by better-known nations. This can also take on more direct forms, such as race, income, or gender-based discrimination, discrimination based on MUN experience, and general harassment. Such conduct is unacceptable, and we as a MUN community must make strides to address this issue. All voices must be heard and given an equal chance to participate in MUN, regardless of experience or background.

 

At MUNSA, we do not tolerate harassment and unfair competition tactics. MUN is an educational experience before it is a competition. For delegates who may be having their first MUN experience, or who may not have had the funds for additional coaching, being discounted and silenced in committee is all too common, and aggressive and unfair tactics used by other delegates serves to silence these delegates even further. The goal of MUN is to form collaborative solutions, not to gain awards or status, and this understanding ought to be reflected in delegates’ behavior.

 

The steps that MUNSA will take to address discrimination in committee:

  1. This year, the MUNSA XXV Secretariat has expanded the size of some committees to allow for a wider array of countries to be represented in debate, and reduced the size of the largest committees to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. 

 

  1. MUNSA XXV has taken steps to ensure that the country list for MUNSA committees is less Eurocentric.

 

  1. MUNSA XXV delegations are expected to abide by our new Conference Ethics and Anti-Harassment Code, which strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment of all forms. All delegates will be expected to review the Ethics Code and it will be read at the beginning of each day of the conference as part of committee announcements.

 

  1. MUNSA XXV will implement an anonymous complaint form for delegates to report inappropriate behavior should discrimination or harassment occur.

 

  1. Staff will be trained in recognizing violations of the Conference Ethics and Anti-Harassment Code.

 

  1. Future conference chairs will be encouraged to investigate topics that give precedence to discussions of international equity and lesser-known regional issues.

 

  1. MUNSA XXV Secretariat will integrate a workshop on elevating diverse voices in MUN as a component of conference programming for sponsors.

 Lack of Resources

 

Lack of resources and training for delegates who may not have received training is another major barrier to success in committee and often contribute to the voices of new delegates being silenced by more experienced delegates. To participate fully in MUN, it is important that new delegations have the resources needed for success. To ensure that each school is equitably equipped with the resources it needs to succeed, the MUNSA XXV Secretariat will:

 

  1. Offer a coaching summit to anyone who signs up through our form that will cover all elements of regular committees and basic crisis training.

 

  1. Create a resources page where delegates and sponsors alike can find resources on MUN, organizing a team, and preparing for conferences, and share these resources on social media.

 

  1. Open a helpline for delegates to ask questions about parliamentary procedure, position papers, and other MUNSA-related topics in addition to questions about conference technology.

 

  1. Establish contact with other conferences before, during, and after the conference to collectively develop equitable resources for new MUN teams and create more equitable conferences.

 

CONCLUSION

 

The fight for greater equity is an ongoing battle, and by no means is this plan a comprehensive or immediate solution for underrepresentation and non-inclusivity in MUNSA. However, it is a necessary step towards making our conference align more perfectly with our purpose of fostering young leaders who will lead us towards a sustainable, diverse future. It is our hope that these measures act as a catalyst for greater equity in our beloved MUN community.

 

Model United Nations San Antonio (MUNSA) is a conference that prides itself on teaching delegates the importance of authentic debate, collaboration, and working towards a meaningful resolution. The theme of MUNSA XXV: Horizons encourages delegates to view diversity as an asset and focus on creating a stable future for our world. With diplomacy in mind, delegates from all committees will work diligently to create long-lasting resolutions that will encapsulate their vision for a better future. Collectively, we will embark on a journey to create a global community in which vital issues are solved through empathic communication, passionate visionaries, and the future at the forefront of our minds.

 

It is up to us to ensure that we work towards an inclusive future, and it is our fervent belief that by creating a truly diverse and inclusive environment where all young leaders can learn and grow, there is no limit to what the horizons may hold.