Juliana Tom ’24 is a Le Moyne student majoring in political science – except on those occasions when she briefly takes on another identity, for example that of a high-ranking representative of the Greek government. A member of the College’s Model European Union (EU), Tom puts herself in the shoes of the leaders of the 27 nations that comprise the EU. The Greenlawn, N.Y., native recently found herself on the campus of Indiana University-Bloomington, where she and five other Le Moyne students participated in the Midwest Model EU. They reflected on the EU’s mission to promote peace, security and freedom across the continent. They delved into a range of topics that will shape their futures, including trade, human rights and the environment. But most important, they discovered more about the world around them, and what they want their place in it to be.
“I’ve learned a lot professionally, academically and personally through Model EU,” said Tom, who has participated in a total of three Model EU simulations and was assigned the role of a European commissioner at the Midwest Model EU. “I’ve identified a career path and enhanced my skill set. I’ve also learned a lot about international politics and global affairs, which makes my classroom experiences more meaningful.”
Professor of Political Science and Director of the Peace and Global Studied Program Delia Popescu, Ph.D., established Le Moyne’s Model EU in 2020, coordinating simulations, recruiting participants, and devising a mentorship program for the students. She saw it as “an invaluable way for students to be introduced to a political world that requires mutuality and solidarity, rather than competition and conflict.” Since then, the organization has provided students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of the nearly 30-year-old political and economic union as they have represented Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia. Popescu is proud that even as they have competed with teams from much larger schools, the Le Moyne students have earned high praise and several peer-supported awards.
Beyond that, the organization has allowed them to refine their ability to debate, negotiate and work effectively as part of a team. In each of their simulations, whether their most recent one in Bloomington or an earlier one held online, the members of Model EU have developed their capacity to use communication and compromise to forge consensus. They acknowledge that it’s not always easy. Even something as simple as the meaning of the word “negatively” in a proposal can inspire ferocious debate. But with each experience, these students are learning to merge persistence and confidence and grace and diplomacy.
“Participation in Model European Union provides students with multiple opportunities to develop their social and political skills and capacities,” said Yunus Sozen, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science who serves as a co-adviser of Model EU. “Firstly, Model EU encourages students to engage with political issues around the world and appreciate their multi-dimensional character, from the standpoint of collective decision and policy making. Perhaps more importantly, the Model EU requires students to engage in debates and negotiations on political, economic, and social issues, in a context with intricate diplomatic and democratic rules and procedures.”
Michaela Rice ’24 and Emery Baun ’24 are among those who credit their time in Model EU with broadening their understanding of European politics and world events. Baun, a political science major from Orchard Park, N.Y., recalled attending her first conference, where the participants discussed the Russia-Ukraine crisis. She soon found herself engaging in meaningful conversations. It was through this experience and others like it that Baun discovered what it means to argue and advocate on behalf of a team. She also found that “advocacy with diplomacy is a learned skill.” If you’re too headstrong and unwilling to look for other solutions, she noted, you’ll never accomplish anything.
Prior to being involved in Model EU, Kassanda Vickers ’24 says she wasn't very well-versed in international legislation, nor did she entirely understand the political structure that many global organizations follow, which held her back from becoming involved in discussing these topics. Now she feels that she has a solid understanding of the international political scene and a lot to contribute to these conversations. Her time in Le Moyne’s Model EU, where she takes on the role of finance minister, has furthered her desire to become an attorney and work in government following her graduation. The Midwest Model EU was especially instructive for her. Vickers submitted a proposal on which she worked extremely hard, carefully editing and reediting it, but which ultimately did not pass. It did not discourage her though. Rather, it taught her that success can be defined as much by effort as it is by outcome.
“I feel as though there is so much change and progress that our nations need to make,” she said. “I strongly believe that our generation has the willpower and strength to do its part and make the world a better place.”
The following students participated in Midwest Model EU, which was held on the campus of Indiana University-Bloomington: Emery Baun ’24, Emir Karic ‘22, Michaela Rice ’24, Juliana Tom ’24, Anthony Urena ’22 and Kassandra Vickers ’24.
What students say that learn from Model EU
“Compromise, compromise, compromise. Also, did I say compromise? The overall objective is to pass your proposals in your favor. However, with the challenges of unanimous decision, in my council at least, I needed all other countries to agree with the proposal. Unlike other voting systems, such as majority rules where one country has 'X' amount of votes, while another has 'Y' amount of votes, all countries have the same voting power. That means a small power, like Greece, had the same voting power as a major power, such as Germany. In order to get other countries to be on board with what I proposed, we had endless debate and compromise talks. The tricky part was to compromise, but not to go against our country’s interests, so it was very precise on how I negotiated talks. Thankfully, this turned out well, as 4/6 proposals passed were ones I had proposed.”
- Emir Karic ’22, computer science major, Fayetteville, N.Y.