Potential club creates concern, disagreement


Freshman Michael Andrews is on a mission to start a club. Should he succeed in creating a model United Nations club, the structure of model United Nations program as it exists on Butler’s campus would change significantly.
At this point, Andrews’ vision of a model U.N. club has been endorsed by the Student Government Association but not officially approved by Student Affairs or P.u.L.S.E. office.
“My vision is for a club, not a class. I really want to stress that,” Andrews said. “You wouldn’t need experience to join, and it’s not run through any academic department, so there’s no grade at stake. It’s just students trying to get together to become a more peaceful society.”
Currently, to be a part of Butler’s model United Nations team, students must enroll in IS-390, an international studies class taught by visiting assistant professor of international studies Robert Oprisko.
“That course allows us to know that those who pass have successfully been introduced to the United Nations, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and have a practical, working knowledge of parliamentary procedure,” Oprisko said.
Butler’s International Studies department sponsors one team to attend either Harvard’s model U.N. competition or McGill’s model U.N. competition. The department also sponsors teams for the Midwest Regional Model Arab League at Miami University and the Midwest Regional Model European Union.
Andrews said he wanted to provide students with the option to participate in model U.N. activities without having to take the class.
“The class is a 300 level international studies course that you have to commit a lot of time to,” Andrews said. “The club would be like an intramural team. The class is like Butler basketball where it is top notch and they go and compete. Anyone would be able to join the club at any skill level, but they are not required to compete which means there won’t be a lot of pressure (for club members).”
Oprisko also compared the class to a club sports team in relation to the international studies course and model U.N. team already in place.
“The club seems like it would be what a club team is in relation to a varsity sports team,” Oprisko said. “But I think it is very clear that International Studies would need to play a lead role in the operation of this club.”
Andrews said collaboration with the international studies department has not gone well so far.
“The IS department seems pretty bitter about this because they think that model U.N. is their territory exclusively because they already have something like this,” Andrews said. “It has been a huge miscommunication this whole time.”
Oprisko said he thinks the club was not created or planned in the proper way.
“I think that, in this situation, a student began running before he was walking,” Oprisko said. “He did what he wanted to and not what he could do. He tried to jump right into things rather than go through a transformative or evolutionary process.”
Oprisko said, overall, he thinks the interest in model U.N. will be a positive thing for Butler’s campus.
“I think that having a greater interest in model U.N. is a great thing,” Oprisko said. “Generating publicity for this is going to be something I support whole heartedly. I hope that the passionate students out there are going to be able to work with sources and funding and don’t allow egos to get in the way.”
Delaney Barr, international studies major, said the creation of the club has been a large topic of conversation amongst international studies students and faculty.
“I think it’s a really good idea, but the student didn’t go the proper way about planning this,” Barr said. “He didn’t run it through the international studies department, which he should have.”
Andrews has rallied students from different majors, international studies included, who want to be a part of the creation of the club.
“We have reached out to students and had a callout meeting,” Andrews said. “Twenty-two people have joined the club at this point. I talked to some interested pharmacy, biology and chemistry majors and they work and don’t have time to put into the class.”
Senior Brittanie Redd took the model U.N. class and now works with Andrews on the creation of the club.
“I have had a class with Professor Oprisko. He sparked my interest in foreign affairs,” Redd said. “I thought he was an amazing teacher and he really challenged me in a lot of ways even before I had class with him. I had an interest it since my major was already international studies. Having class with him helped me to realize I want to pursue this as a career and possible humanitarian efforts abroad.”
The club’s creators are in the process of negotiations for funding. The students involved in getting support have reached out to SGA and Indiana World Affairs.
“Our long-term goal is to host a college meet, but that is going to require a lot more preparation and interest,” Andrews said. “The high school meet would be achievable for 2014 because we do have interest from the Indianapolis region. By the time I am a junior or senior hopefully we’ll have it figured out to host a college meet.”
SGA President Craig Fisher said the club showed legitimate student interest, student need, leadership and potential to be sustainable. The model U.N. club was not endorsed by SGA after their first presentation, but had gathered the proper information and interest by their second meeting with SGA.
“This club seemed to fit a need that is not fit by the class,” Fisher said. “This club looks like it would promote more community engagement rather than just collegiate engagement.”
Fisher said the club would still need to go through the Office of Student Life and P.u.L.S.E. to become officially recognized by the university and would need to be officially recognized before they could apply for SGA grants.
“Whenever there is an opportunity that exists to bring something new to campus, SGA has the means to help make it happen,” Fisher said.
Redd said the goal of the club is to educate students, not to overstep the boundaries of the class already in place.
“Overall, our goal is to help people become more aware about the world,” Redd said. “We get too complacent with what is around us that we kind of miss out on the fact that there are so many things going on. We think they won’t affect us, but we are global citizens. We should care and should take part in different efforts.”


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