AU’s model UN ranks second in the nation
Team achieves highest ranking ever after fifth place win last year
AU’s Model United Nations team placed second in the nation this year, its highest rank ever, according to Best Delegate.
The team only recently gained national recognition; just four years ago, the team was not even ranked. Last year, the team was the fifth best team in the United States. The rankings are based on the team’s performance at nine conferences throughout the year. The education company Best Delegate Model UN determines how a given school is ranked.
Callie Vitro, the team’s head delegate, credits their most recent success to equal parts excitement and effort among the team’s members.
“When we can get freshmen to be super passionate and excited for conferences, that bottom-up makes everyone else excited and we all work really hard,” she said. “In previous years, it used to just be the seniors that care about it, but now all 40 members have a really important role.”
Freshman delegate Lizzie Williamson added that the team’s supportive dynamic contributed to their recent victory.
“When you have a good community with your team and you feel accepted and loved, you’re not just winning for yourself anymore,” Williamson said, fresh off a 14-hour bus ride home from a Model UN conference in Montreal, Canada. “You’re winning because you want to make everybody proud. I want an award not just for myself, but for my entire team.”
Despite the team’s success, some members don’t feel supported by the University, said senior Zachary Bontempo, last year’s head delegate.
“We’ve had problems with people not being able to afford to go to conferences because they can’t pay the dues,” Bontempo said. “We have issues with the fact that while the school will post things about us and advertise about us, they are very reluctant to talk to us about the financial situation.”
The team, which receives the same amount of funding as all other campus clubs, is responsible for covering their travel costs, hotel costs, conferences dues and other expenditures.
Team members created a GoFundMe page last year to try to alleviate financial pressure for some individuals, but much of the team’s funding comes from a yearly Model UN conference they host on campus for high school students. Bontempo says that this conference also benefits the University because it offers opportunities for advertising and recruitment.
Sophomore delegate Simon Lux said that funding trips is also difficult for other Model UN teams at colleges around the nation.
“It’s a problem on the entire circuit, but it’s especially hard at AU because the school itself is so expensive and it makes it really hard to go to conferences,” Lux said. “I know two people that couldn’t go to conferences because of expenses.”
Even more challenging than attending the conferences is making the team itself. Every fall, over 300 delegate hopefuls try out for the team. Only about ten new members are taken on per year, according to sophomore delegate Emily Devereaux. The try-outs are done in two rounds; one audition to assess performance in a mock session and one interview.
“Freshmen aren’t considered lower than anyone else when they join the team,” said Williamson. “If you get through the rigorous audition process, you’re welcomed with open arms. You’re given the chances to have as much success as the seniors on the team, who’ve done it for four years."
The team hopes to keep its prestige alive in the spring semester. Lux said that he sees the team taking first place by the end of the semester, surpassing the University of Chicago, the undefeated team since 2018.
“If you look at leadership these last two years, we’ve entrenched a team culture that’s going to help us stay a very competitive team for a very long time,” Bontempo said.