Model UN: DHS students work with CIMUN organization to correct the widespread material

Model UN: DHS students work with CIMUN organization to correct the widespread material

Information is thrown at students left and right. A majority of the time, schools and organizations provide students with materials, information that gets accepted as factual without a second thought. While most of the time it is accurate, there are events in which organizations may state misleading facts, something many students are unaware of. Deerfield High School’s Model United Nations was faced with inaccurate information and tackled the situation with the cooperation of the MUN organization.

Every year Model United Nations attends a national conference in Chicago known as Chicago International Model United Nations, or CIMUN for short. Those who run the conference are adults in their twenties who are out of college-or close to ending college-and are Model United Nations alumni themselves. They are the ones who decide on the topics and then proceed to write the background guides, which are guideline sheets that have the discussion topics. Unfortunately, this background guide was one that would eventually be withdrawn due to its questionable word choice. Sophomore Orli Sheffey knew exactly how to tackle this situation.

Sheffey fills in Deerprints exactly happened when the background guide went out, stating, “When I first read the background guide, the first topic was fine, but when reading the second topic, I found the words and phrases used to describe Jews quite disconcerting and not appropriate in the context. They would blame the “Israeli-Jewish” for the issues currently occurring in the Middle East. There were also factual inaccuracies and misleading statements.”

As both adults and leaders of the CIMUN conference, it is expected that the background guide is checked multiple times, and looked over to make sure there aren’t any cultural biases.

Sheffey noticed another flaw in the background guide, explaining, “They were playing it as a religious conflict, but only on one side of the argument. They referred to the Jews when writing about the Israelis, which to be clear are definitely not interchangeable terms. They referred to Palestinians as mere Palestinians. And beyond that, they also wouldn’t refer to simply the Israelis, they referred to the ‘Israeli Jewish.’” The background guide had not only one or two errors, but several. And just as Sheffey said, “That’s not acceptable,
and if the topic is about human rights, religion should not be introduced.”

Fortunately, Sheffey noticed these inaccuracies, and she immediately took it upon herself to reach out to the Deerfield Model United Nations sponsors Mrs. Crowley, and Mrs. Quagliana both teachers in the social studies department. After reading the background guide, the sponsors also agreed some major changes were needed.

Quagliana stated, “Mrs. Crowley and I, we took a look at it, and we sat down with a delegate and we agreed that it had problems stemming from how it was a very poorly written background guide, and for something that comes out of an organization and is written by adults you expect it to be well written.”

Those who wrote the background guide were misinformed, and Sheffey sums it up stating, “It’s clear that whoever wrote it was either extremely uninformed or had a specific motive. I don’t know which one it was, but it’s unacceptable regardless.”

As unfavorable as this situation was, there is not a definite answer for why the background guide was written that way. This situation is a prime example of how students are able to acknowledge misleading information and work with the organization to enhance the accuracy of the information.

Sheffey felt something was wrong, so when she took it up with the sponsors they immediately contacted the conference. The organization that runs the CIMUN conference acknowledged the poor word choice and made the necessary changes.

As Quagliana stated, “It’s kind of a triumph story for Deerfield High School because we felt something was wrong, we spoke up about it, and it’s getting changed.”

Being well informed is crucial, because misinformation tends to lead to flawed discussions, especially in the era of “fake news”. Sheffey further explains her thoughts stating, “I happen to be knowledgeable in regards to this topic, but those who don’t have any connection to the issue might not be as informed. For those who aren’t informed, this background guide will serve as a basis for all of their arguments, meaning their opinion will be based on factual inaccuracies.”

The organization was swift in their changes to address the issue. Not everyone has bad intentions, and Quagliana stresses taking action. “In addition to speaking up, if you feel uncomfortable with something, I would encourage people to not assume ill intent in these situations. If you hear or read something that seems inappropriate or offensive, don’t assume that the speaker or writer meant to be offensive; it could be a product of lack of knowledge, poor communication or other factors.”

This situation was a prime example for how to deal with sensitive issues, and an even better example of how students’ voices are equally as important as anyone else’s. The MUN sponsors immediately responded to Sheffey’s concerns, and it was immediately brought up to the CIMUN organization who then proceeded to take the background guide off of the website. This mistake was quickly corrected, and a new background guide with factually accurate language has been released.

With no ill intentions on anyone’s part, many forces were able to work together to fix an error in order to more accurately represent groups of people. Working together, Model UN sponsors, Sheffey, and the CIMUN organization respectively took swift action in order to correct and prevent inaccurate information from reaching eager MUN students.