By: Judah Stiefel  | 

With Alumni in Key YUNMUN Positions, TABC Delegation Looks to Bring Acceptable Fun to Conference

There is a  circle of life for Yeshiva University Model United Nations (YUNMUN) each couple of years. Students who have served as staff, chairs, and secretaries for the event graduate while new students step up to fill their positions. As old make way for the new, some traditions remain solid while others are built upon. Each new selection of YUNMUN staff bring their own personalities to maintain the event’s excellence while adding their own new ideas to improve. Many of the those running the event this year participated as competitors in previous years. For prospective students, YUNMUN may be their best chance to glimpse the college. Not only is it hosted by the Admissions Office, but it is also largely managed and run by representatives of the YU student body. For the 450 plus potential students who show up from high schools across the country it is an excellent glimpse not only into the Yeshiva University of great socializing and marketing pamphlets but also into the accomplished students that make our school the unique place that it is.

Of the staff at this year’s YUNMUN, many are alumni of Torah Academy of Bergen County, a boys’ yeshiva high school in New Jersey. The Secretary General, Avi Strauss; three committee chairs, Shai Berman, Akiva Marder, and Ariel Hochman; and five junior staff members are all alumni of TABC. Nearly all were members of the illustrious TABC delegations that were famous for their shtick and light-hearted approach to the mock debates Model UN is known for. Several of this year’s staff members were on the 2013 Model UN team from TABC that caused a controversy that made its way into The Commentator and led to more subdued TABC delegations in the years since.

For years, TABC had a reputation of adding what many considered the fun side to YUNMUN, a 3-day competition that can often become intense and cutthroat. However, some felt that at the conference of 2013 the TABC students had gone too far, with stunts like mock marriage proposals to committee chairs and rewriting placards to read “Narnia.” Other shenanigans went on as well which were deemed inappropriate.

“I believe it’s important not to live in the past. I think TABC showed its true strength by transitioning from the ‘joke’ team to one of the top-placing schools on the conference in only a matter of 3 years,” Yehoshua Zirman, a YUNMUN media center staff member on this upcoming conference who competed on TABC’s delegation, wrote in an email. “TABC alumni are basically running the entire YUNMUN this year and, I think that shows TABC’s true colors much more than an article written in [The Commentator] 5 years ago.”

Some would like to see an irony in the fact that the conference is now being run by TABC students. However, others would argue the fact that these students play large roles in the current YUNMUN administration is of no coincidence. The students that were accused of overstepping their mandate to entertain have matured and are now able to bring an excellent balance to the event.

The high school students that participate in YUNMUN from around the country interact with the staff, and it’s important for the YU student staffers to be able to portray both the academic and the fun sides of YU. Mr. Strauss said, “the event serves as a microcosm of the intense academics a college student may face, but also opens up opportunities for some quality, good spirited humor. Nearly all the delegates are looking for respite from over 12 hours of committee sessions in a 27-hour window of time. The TABC alumni who staff the conference have learned to polish up their acts from when they were in high school, adding some levity to the event, but in good taste.”

YU student Avery Ennis says that often Model UN could become extremely intense and he thinks it will be a large enhancement to the event to have staff members who understand how to run a fun event that had a healthy amount of fun to – every once in awhile – lighten the mood.

An example of this fun can be seen in a YUNMUN tradition, the elevator-barber shop quartet, of which Secretary General Strauss and the other senior staff TABC alumni have participated since they were delegates. Those who have participated in YUNMUN in the past may know of the singing tradition. A delegate on YUNMUN using the glass elevator in the middle of the conference center may be lucky enough to catch the elevator shop quartet’s legendary rendition of The Beach Boys’ “Barbra Anne.” The show lightens the mood of the conference for delegates who have been sitting in intense conference settings all day. Other conference chairs have designed exciting crises to excite the committee atmosphere. A good crisis will have the delegates laughing while also attempting to solve serious world threats. In the past, committee chairs have broken crises with anything from ransom demands hidden in cakes to morph suit-wearing food viruses ransacking the room and the world’s food stores. Current staff members, many of whom are TABC alumni, know how excellent the conference can be with the right amounts of serious committee sessions and appropriate entertainment.

The TABC delegation has toned down their antics from their controversial behavior of the past. In the 2016 conference TABC came in 5th out of over 40 schools and demonstrated that its students are serious while also adding a subdued, yet fun atmosphere to the conference. TABC alumnus Daniel Jerome Schwarz commented, “I’m excited to see how TABC does in the conference this year. It’s important to me that they win as much as possible without losing their ability to get a laugh.”

High school and college students alike are all waiting to see how this year’s conference rapidly approaching conference will run, and how the TABC renaissance in YUNMUN will build on the progress of years past.


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