By Menna Taher
Despite its popularity among student organizations, the Model United Nations is having difficulty in recruiting members for its spring conference.
Though the last day to sign up for MUN is on Thursday, conference secretariats say recruitment has been lower than in previous semesters.
“Until now, there are 267 applicants,” said Sally Sabbahy, a secretariat in The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “We barely meet the minimum, which is usually 600 applicants.”
MUN has seven different councils; The European Union-African Union Summit, The Human Rights Council, The International Court of Justice, The Peace Building Commission, The Security Council, The United National Office on Drugs and Crime and The World Economic Forum.
“Each of the councils recruits at least 50 people,” Sabbahy said. “We also have to take into consideration that many of the participants will drop out in the first weeks. That’s why we recruit many people.”
The schedule is pre-arranged and is connected, so any delay would affect the planned dates for the conference.
“It would be ridiculous to hold a conference with this amount of people,” Sabbahy said. “We can’t have a Security Council of nine countries.”
However, Kismet El Husseiny, MUN Secretary General, believes that there’s always a drop in the applicants at a certain phase during the semester. “It’s not uncommon,” he said. “People start to flood in during the last 10 days of recruitment.”
Secretariats and the Organizing Committee prepare for the event a year in advance and put a lot of effort in holding a conference.
“We have to prepare a background paper, which has the main topics we’re intending to discuss and we also attend trainings to practice communication and presentation skills by former Secretariats,” said Hend El Zawahry, a secretariat in The Security Council.
“We work for eight months,” said Sara Negm, the head of the OC. “But those participating know they will work beforehand. However, the load of work decreases at the peak of exams.”
Negm said that two committees were established this semester. The Environmental Program and the Awareness Program, which held the Peace For One Day campaign.
MUN members said The American University in Cairo’s move had a significant impact on the club. Due to the distance of the campus, applicants from Cairo and Ain Shams Universities decreased from previous years.
According to Shireen Wissa, a member of the External Public Relations Committee, said another reason for the decrease was that Cairo University and Misr International University have their own MUN now and professors are not as lenient with giving out absence and exams excuses as before.
Arranging buses on Saturday to attend sessions also poses a budget problem.
“AUC has offered to compensate for the costs of the buses for the Junior CIMUN, [which was held in October],” El Husseiny said. “But we still didn’t receive anything”
CIMUN members are trying to get around limitations on sponsorship, which have changed since recent years due to a contract signed between The American University in Cairo and Delicious Inc., the food consortium currently running campus outlets.
“Instead of getting the sponsor on campus, we take their products and sell them ourselves. We got tickets for the Arabs Gone Wild comedy show and had the fundraising committee sell them,” El Husseiny said.
Nevertheless, some active participants still sign up despite transportation hardships.
Sharmake Mohamed is a Somali student and an active participant in MUN conferences.
“I come from a country that has witnessed a two-decade civil war,” Mohamed said. “I want to learn more about foreign policies to help out my country.”