A Tribute to SMUN Press
As I write this, I feel that strange sense of melancholy and nostalgia that one gets when any MUN conference ends. While my time as a press chair was hectic and chaotic, it was equally as fulfilling and quickly moved to become one of my favourite conferences ever. This is purely because of what press stands for and my experience here - call me biased, but I have to say that press is one of the better councils in MUN. Here, there’s not a lot of emphasis on pieces of paper and bragging rights - be it BD, OD, HM or even VC. Here, it is the purest showcase of what MUN conferences truly aim to do: empower youths and give them opportunities to consider stances, possibly different from theirs, and to stick and use these stances to anchor their arguments as they worked together to write on these, in longform or in the forms of memes and infographics. More than anything, it allowed delegates the opportunity to make friends and bond with people from and not from their councils. They give importance to communication and diplomacy, purely aiming to do their best to report the happenings in council and their agency’s take on it. Thus, they fulfil the aims and values which were kept in mind when MUN conferences were created.
My intention is not to praise the Press Corps, neither is it to diss other councils. It is purely my way of pleading with you to reconsider your aims in MUN - awards are incredibly gratifying but they are not as fulfilling as the friendships you can forge and the positive memories you can create.
Press is a really special committee. We love what we do, and that’s more than what the other delegates can say.
They like to talk about winning—how many awards they’ve won, as though their BD was anything more than a slip of paper and a gavel, a decision made by a pol sci undergrad, maybe a secondary school student. They talk about snakes, snitches, and snobs, all the deplorable people they meet and how they want to retire. Always, they talk about retirement.
They talk about stopping so often—every conference they go to—that you wonder why they continue. And they go on, to be chairs, directors, DSGs, and sec-gens. Still, they talk about retirement, how stressful it is, how they’re so glad they can finally stop. And they go on. When they’re too old and have to go, they talk about it still, still in terms of awards, roles, snakes.
They like to talk about everything except having fun. Of course if you ask them then they’ll say how they love politics, debate, the friends, the complexity, the diplomacy. These are the things that keep them going, they say.
But the politics isn’t that interesting—what one committee says about the cost of one specific commodity in one small region of central Asia—and the debate’s with secondary school kids so many years younger than you. At the end of a conference, you feel bad because you didn’t win the BD and you didn’t make a single friend and you feel like you’ve been cut. The committee and motivation might not be real, but the feelings of sorrow that you have are. You’re exhausted and you wonder why you did this again. Again, again, again.
Do you remember your first MUN? Before it was about BDs, before the overjustification effect kicked in and you only cared about what other people thought about you. You enjoyed it so much, and you said you’d come back. You felt good at the end of it. No back-stabbing or politicking or gaslighting.
That was closer to the real UN than what the advanced comms do. Humility, diplomacy, and compromise working towards the singular goal of doing good. Knowing that you represent a country and doing your best to be nuanced and play a role. Working with others.
You loved it, but your love became greed and pride. Now you were into MUN, the blazers and black blouses and high heels and dress shoes—pretending to be adults, practicing a form of diplomacy that would get your country nothing but sanctions.
You’re exhausted. You join press, the one you haven’t tried, but it’s different. There’s none of that caustic social warfare, and if you genuinely liked the politics you’d savour the opportunity to write on it in longform. Your chairs are nice and they all talk to you, and you have such a freedom to do what you really want.
You make things—memes and articles that move your delegates and make them laugh. You talk to delegates one-on-one without their guard being raised, without them trying to manipulate you. You feel good at the end of it. You enjoyed it. You say that you’ll come back.
And you do. You come back and it’s the same thing but you write better and you win an award and you make a genuine friend this time and you wonder, “Hey, maybe I won’t retire after all. This isn’t bad at all, I really do have a lot of fun in press.”
Over the past 4 days, you have been sitting ominously in the zoom rooms of other committees, snickered over your dank memes, sent out your straw polls, and worked arduously on your articles. For that, I would like to say, thank you, for it is you who keep us going.
As you were busy pitching news ideas, producing infographics and interviews, publishing news reports, and promoting your ideas online, I must say, I was very proud of all of you for putting in the hard work. This is one of the most promising bunch of press delegates I have ever seen, or perceived.
But really, I hope that you have improved in your listening and writing skills, and developed a deeper appreciation on the roles of news media, over the short span of a few days.