Location: University of St Gallen
Dates: 9-12 November, 2017
Number of delegates: 67
Number of committees: 4
Cost: delegate fee €99 (early bird), €115 (normal price), €54 (without accommodation), social pack €45
SGMUN, held at the Swiss city of St Gallen, saw great success in its inaugural edition. Despite being run for the first time, delegates praised the well-run committees, smooth conference organisation, and high quality socials. On the whole, this year’s edition has joined the select few newcomer conferences that hold great promise for the future and has the potential to become a mainstay of the European MUN circuit.
SGMUN’s committees were notably varied and innovative given the smaller size of the conference. Apart from two main branch committees (DISEC and WHO), the conference offered a three cabinet Joint Cabinet Crisis simulating the War of the Pacific in the late 19th Century, featuring Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Delegates thought that both the main branch and crisis committees were well run.
The highlight of the conference, however, was the Brexit Negotiations committee, run using the structure of main branch RoP but containing novel aspects that simulated the scheduling of negotiations as well as incorporating the press into the debate. Two “teams” of negotiators, representing the British and EU sides, negotiated over various aspects of the final settlement. Throughout the session, delegates were held to account by press briefings, where they were questioned on what they had agreed upon. Delegates were impressed by the innovative format of the committee, with one delegate remarking during feedback sessions that it was the “best committee [he had] ever been in”.
Both ceremonies were held in unglamourous but practical settings. The opening ceremony featured two speakers, Jessica Graf, a professional consultant, and Dr. Dirk Lehmkuhl, a professor at the university. The first speaker was gave an uninspiring and disjointed speech, talking about her personal career, from working in NGOs through to the transition into the private sector. Her speech ended with her telling the audience to stay away from a career in the UN and to join the private sector. The speech was overall rather controversial but contained no real point to it. This aimlessness was made worse by the speaker’s monotonous tone. Dr. Lehmkuhl provided a slightly more lively and content-focused talk on the European Union and its future which was better received by delegates, though the consensus was that the opening ceremony was too long and felt more like a series of lectures.
The closing ceremony was held in another lecture theatre, which was modern and well-lit. Beginning with fellow delegates advertising their own conferences, the ceremony then proceeded to the conference’s third guest speaker, Sabine Fankhauser, a former UN Youth Delegate who relayed her experiences in the United Nations to the audience. The talk was personal and quite interesting, though due to the international nature of the conference some participants found it less relevant than it could have been. Finally, the chairs gave their remarks and presented awards, followed by the Secretary General officially closing the conference after a brief speech.
SGMUN’s €45 social pack consisted of 3 socials, starting with a Fondue Night on Thursday. Participants were split up into small groups of approximately 5-6 and given addresses of hosts. This novel idea was well received by participants, who complimented the fact that the personal setting helped them to get to know each other more. This was followed by an informal drinks session held at a bar in the city. The social may have benefited from more coordination between the hosts and non-local participants, some of whom got lost in the city with no data signal.
The second social was a bar crawl, organised by committees, which started off a little slowly because delegates failed to turn up to the starting venues on time. However, once people showed up, the atmosphere became much livelier, culminating in all groups joining up at the university’s student bar.
Saturday’s social was held at what was described as a “frat house”. Dinner in the form of burgers were provided, as was copious amounts of free alcohol in a well-stocked fridge. Despite lasting for almost five hours, there was still a significant amount of beer in the fridge. Participants stayed in one place until they were directed to the club night, which was enjoyable but very crowded.
The social pack overall was great value, given the astronomical cost of living in St Gallen.
Venues, Logistics and Communications
The conference’s venues were spread out over the main library building. Delegates reported that committee rooms were often too cold, though the Secretariat could do little given the university’s central heating system. There was also a lack of extension cords on the first day, though this was soon remedied.
Also commendable was the preparation the conference had for international delegates. Plug adapters were readily available throughout the conference, making committee sessions much more convenient for participants. Communications were maintained between the Secretariat and participants for the most part, though some delegates had issues with country allocations being given quite late.
SGMUN was also notable for offering 4 days’ accommodation with its delegate fees, which streamlined the conference organising process for delegations coming from overseas and was much appreciated. Free lunch was also provided on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Right of Reply
First of all we would like to thank our delegates and chairs for coming and making our conference possible and awesome! After reviewing the overall positive feedback we received from the participants we are happy to announce that we decided to organize a second edition of the conference next year! We hope to again bring you a great value proposition, as we recognize that Switzerland is an expensive country to visit, and provide you with great academics, warmer rooms and an even better and smoother organization! See you again next year in St. Gallen!