- Janice Lin and Avantika Singh
Model UN vs. Debate
There isn’t a public speaking club at Edgemont, but there are a few clubs you could join to improve your skills. The two most well-known are Model United Nations (MUN) and Debate. We asked Jeshua Florian (‘24) what his impressions of the two were: “I think [Model United Nations] gives people an opportunity to see if they enjoy that field or topic. You create fake scenarios, as in you aren’t actually a certain country, but you debate as representatives of various countries on real-world issues. In Debate, I’d imagine you debate over topics and show how you would persuade someone to a certain side. Probably topics as major as the ones in MUN but still global issues dialed down.”
Given the name of the club, it can be correctly assumed that MUN is mostly about the international community and how the governments of individual countries tackle major issues differently. At a conference, different general and specialized committees are based on real-life UN committees with those real issues. There are also crisis committees, which take these issues a bit further with real-time scenarios that occur based on what course of action the people in the committee have decided to take (think school-sanctioned roleplaying meets note-passing). Crisis committees aren’t always based on the real UN, with some examples being the Hype House, the NBA, and the Oscars.
Jeshua is, of course, correct to say that debate centers on argumentation. The topics, however, vary considerably from politics and education to superpowers and ethics. They don’t necessarily have to be “global issues dialed down,” but they can be. International relations and economics are common resolution topics. There is a specific type of resolution in Parliamentary debate that you either love or hate. They run extremely long and ask students to ponder the meaning of a song lyric, the use of power for general good or personal benefit, or a detailed romantic scenario.
If you are in seventh, eighth, or ninth grade, your choices are limited, as MUN consists solely of tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. If you are a freshman, though, you can look forward to MUN’s yearly tryouts at the end of the school year (usually in late April or May), where the Head Delegates (aka the MUN team’s captains) assess your persuasive writing skills and plan a MUN simulation to see who thrives in that kind of environment. Don’t worry if you don’t make the cut in ninth grade; MUN tryouts are open to all current ninth and tenth graders, so you can always try again next year.
Debate has only recently implemented a tryout system that assesses writing skills but is solely based on dedication and commitment in Public Forum, Policy, and Lincoln-Douglas debate forms. Parliamentary debate still has no tryouts, seeing that it’s only the third year of existence at Edgemont.
Here is a breakdown of all the different types of debate: Public Forum is arguably the most popular with a different topic (known as resolution) every month or so; Lincoln-Doulgas is similar, but it’s you do not have a partner; Policy has the same resolution the entire year, known for requiring people to speak fast. Parliamentary only requires debaters to bring their body with their mind intact (hopefully) and then gives them fifteen minutes to write an entire case.
One of the most alluring points about both clubs is their travel opportunities. MUN only goes to three to four conferences a year, usually in New York City, Philadelphia, Rutgers, and one local competition. On the other hand, debate features tournaments multiple times a month, with some past events taking place in locations as far flung as California. Now, however, tournaments occur either online or in New York. Essentially, your two options are more competitive opportunities but less actual traveling or less competitive opportunities but more actual traveling. Some people like the frequent tournaments that come along with Debate, while others prefer the spread-out MUN conferences.
In both clubs, you have the opportunity to build incredibly strong relationships. In MUN, most people start out working with another delegate, and in Debate, most people have a partner, requiring them to work closely together to establish positions, build cases, and even jointly develop speeches. You establish close bonds not only with your peers but also with the adults that help make these clubs possible (a shout out to Brian and Natalie for debate and Mr. Hansonbrook and Mrs. Cecere for MUN!).
At the end of the day, no matter which club you join, you’ll be developing the same skills and cultivating connections with others. So, smaller differences aside, you’re guaranteed to have a great experience with either (or both) clubs.