Decorum Reviews … ScotMUN X

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View over Edinburgh, ScotMUN’s host city

Location: Edinburgh, UK

Dates: March 4th – 6th

# of delegates: 350

# of committees: 12

Cost: Delegate pack £40 (early bird £29), social pack £30 (half social pack £10)

Celebrating its tenth year, Scotmun X is one of the largest conferences in the UK. It is organised by students of Edinburgh University and held at venues across the city. ScotMUN is a little pricey but provides a fun, engaging and, most importantly, Scottish experience. There were, however, some aspects of communication with delegates that could have been improved.

Academics

The committees on offer this year were very similar to those last year and are seen across many MUN conferences. There were options for all levels from DISEC and WFP to advanced committees such as the ICJ and a three-cabinet crisis. Three conference also featured a double-delegate UN Security Council. The quality of debate was reasonably high across the conference.

Study guides were released very early and provided all of the useful information required for writing position papers. Some committees who were not expecting to hand in position papers were asked for them at a later date, leading to some left rushing to hand them in or missing them all together.

Ceremonies

Both ceremonies were brief. The Opening ceremony was held at the majestic Balmoral Hotel, which offers a lovely view of the famous Edinburgh castle. The speaker, the right honourable Sir George Reid, provided a very entertaining and engaging speech about globalisation, bringing together his experience in both domestic politics and global humanitarian efforts. The opening ceremony captured the excitement of the conference and saw many happy reunions between delegates and chairs alike.

The Balmoral Hotel . . . ScotMUN’s opening ceremony venue

The closing ceremony took place in a lecture hall that, whilst less inspiring than the Balmoral, was conveniently located next to the committee rooms, allowing a quick transfer between the end of committee and ceremony. There was minimal pomp and ceremony and most of the time was given over to awards. The atmosphere was jovial but a little muted, perhaps due to the delegates’ exhaustion.

Socials

The social pack included a Friday night dinner and dance and a Saturday club night.

Friday’s social was a black tie dinner at the Balmoral. The dinner was generally well received, although the vegetarian option left a few delegates feeling hungry. The dinner was followed by a ceilidh (traditional but accessible Scottish dancing) which helped delegates get acquainted as they twirled each other around the dance floor. Unfortunately, the grandeur of the Balmoral came with drinks prices to match – one bottle of sub-par wine set you back £25. But for delegates more interested in the ceilidh, the provision of free, iced water provided a welcome way to cool down. Delegates’ main complaint with the evening was that it ended quite early – at around midnight (earlier than in previous years).

The Balmoral shortly after the opening ceremony, transformed for dinner

The Saturday social was a club night at the Caves nightclub. The venue was a maze of stone-lined, underground basements which provided a novel atmosphere for clubbing. The Secretariat took it upon themselves to DJ but perhaps a professional would have been better. The night was more affordable overall: drinks prices were much more reasonable than Friday and there was a free drink included in the social pack. The event was slightly less well-attended than the Friday social but the assembled delegates and chairs had a great time nonetheless.

Overall, the socials provided very good value for money and let delegates relax and get to know each other outside of committee.

Venues, Logistics and Communication

In the build-up to the conference, the Secretariat provided was quick to respond to questions. However, there were a couple of occasions on which delegations were given contradictory information by members of the Secretariat, which had to be cleared up.

The conference provided delegate packs with a cloth ScotMUN X bag, lanyards, a handbook, a pen and some sweets, with placards being provided at the first committee session. The Secretariat provided lunch for delegates on Saturday, including a range of sandwiches and biscuits which was greatly appreciated by all. Tea and coffee was also available – although this wasn’t well advertised to delegates.

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50 George Square is full of modern and spacious rooms

All of the committees were located in a single university building in the heart of the city. The rooms were modern and adequately sized, with the exception of the crisis rooms which were located in an attached but outdated building. One major issue was the distribution of crisis rooms: the three cabinets were split over two floors and the backroom was located nine floors above them, which slowed the crisis down. There was a serial problem with a lack of power sockets but this was resolved quickly after the Secretariat ran out to buy extension leads. Eduroam was available for university students but there were also a limited number of additional logins for those who couldn’t access the WiFi. These were provided upon demand although it took some time for some of committees to get access.

Right of Reply

“ScotMUN X, as the tenth anniversary of our conference, aimed to be the most enjoyable of our conferences to date, and I hope we achieved that for our delegates. We wanted to improve on last year’s well-received conference, introducing a new Saturday social in a stunning venue, providing lunch for free and generally improving communication across the board. Some of the issues raised here are sadly out of our hands (the ‘outdated’ nature of David Hume Tower is much maligned amongst us as well) however we are happy to take on board the comments presented and move forward to an even better conference for ScotMUN 2018.”

– Robert Kemp, Secretary-General, ScotMUN 2017

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