Freshman takes on leadership role of secretary at Topeka Model UN

Student fills officer role at Model UN conference

Kate O’Keefe poses after the Topeka conference for Model UN on Feb. 25 and26. This was O’Keefe’s first year as an officer, in the role of secretary.

Emily Kruse

Kate O’Keefe poses after the Topeka conference for Model UN on Feb. 25 and26. This was O’Keefe’s first year as an officer, in the role of secretary.

By Freeman Spray, Webmaster

With two conferences in the bag, freshman Kate O’Keefe has survived her first stint as an officer in Model UN.

The Topeka conference took place on Feb. 25 and 26 and involved a full-day of meetings and debate for schools across Kansas. This might seem daunting for some, but for O’Keefe and other LHS students, it was routine after their trip to Chicago University for Model UN.

The conference in Topeka was by the books, which is opportune for a first-time officer. In her third year participating in the Topeka UN, this was O’Keefe’s first experience in the role of secretary, an officer in charge of role call and minutes. It’s a simple job, but it allows for greater involvement in the program.

“The officer stuff is not as much fun,” O’Keefe said, “but I do enjoy Model UN, so that’s why I wanted to participate.”

Everyone’s Model UN experience is different due to the variety of roles each person can take on.

“There’s crisis committees and then there’s the regular general assembly one, which is more orderly,” O’Keefe said. “I was in a general assembly one, so it was very organized and structured.”

O’Keefe hopes that her position as secretary will lead her to become a vice president or president in subsequent years.

“It would be fun [to be vice president or president] but secretary is a lot less responsibility,” O’Keefe said. “So we’ll see how it goes now.”

Although O’Keefe had prepared adequately beforehand in several officers’ preparatory meetings, she said she did not anticipate how much she would need to do. This year’s conference turned out to be a hectic one. O’Keefe’s group passed 42 amendments, which are formal adjustments to resolutions, for only 20 resolutions. Eighteen of those resolutions were “unfriendly,” meaning they had to be put up for debate.

“A lot of the amendments were little things, so [the resolutions] ended up being friendly,” O’Keefe said. “But we talked a lot about education and about global warming. Those were the main [issues].”

With such a large number of issues to sort out, the secretary role became essential to the function of the group. As the number of new amendments piled up, it was O’Keefe’s responsibility to continuously fetch more. Some of the most problematic amendments were set aside entirely, in favor of simply sparing time and moving on.

“We got an amendment that included eating kids, so that was fun,” O’Keefe said. “We didn’t really want to deal with that, so we sent it to the security council.”

Despite the heavy debate and the differences of opinion in the council, O’Keefe reflected that being in the group was a positive experience.

“Being an officer, you’re leading the charge,” model UN sponsor Micah Temple said. “Corralling that many kids and trying to come up with an actual document at the end that everyone can agree on is a very cool process. It’s an incredible learning opportunity”