Philomathean Society and Model UN Host Hundreds of Students for Weekend Conferences

The Phillips Academy campus was swarming on Sunday with debaters and delegates from schools across New England aiming to sharpen their public speaking skills, as the Philomathean Society and Model United Nations hosted tournaments for their respective clubs. Philomathean Society Andover’s debate club, the Philomathean Society, kicked off the debate calendar for New England independent schools this Sunday with the Andover Invitational, the first Worlds-qualifying tournament of the fall. Andover’s Adam Tohn ’10 received the first-place advanced speaker award and therefore qualified for the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Tournament. “This was my first advanced debate so this feels surreal,” said Tohn. The invitational tournament inaugurated the yearlong debate schedule for the Debate Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS). 16 prep schools in the region attended the tournament this weekend. Elisabeth Tully, faculty advisor to the Philomathean Society said, “We had full registration and a waiting list.” DANEIS offers two levels of debate: novice and advanced. Debater Raveena Khanna of the Kingswood-Oxford School said that the tournament “went very well. My only complaint was that [the debate] would have run more smoothly if we had had timers, because the speaker was sometimes too busy to tell us [when time was up].” Tully said, “We had 46 simultaneous debates. It’s just never possible to round-up that many kids [for timers]…The man power required is just enormous.” Another debater, Sonya Levitova of the Windsor School in Boston, enjoyed that the debate topics created heated discussions. “It was definitely one of the most fun debates I’ve been to,” she said. Some of the topics that sparked debate included the legalization of marijuana, the United States government’s priority in domestic or foreign affairs, affordable health care and homosexuality in the military. The debates took place in classrooms in Bullfinch Hall, Gelb Science Center, Morse Hall and Samuel Phillips Hall. “I definitely learned from the kids that I debated against,” said Pat McLaughlin from St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, MA. The Hotchkiss School placed first in the school competition. Choate Rosemary Hall and St. Paul’s School won second and third place school, respectively. Among all of the advanced two-person teams, a pair of debaters from Kingswood-Oxford took the top prize, with pairs from Hotchkiss and Choate coming in a close second and third place. Teams from Choate and St. Paul’s took the top three spots in the novice pairs division. The cost of awards was $515.55, which did not include other expenses. Model United Nations Over 100 students convened on Abbot Campus for the 23rd annual Phillips Academy Invitational Model United Nations (PAIMUN) conference, one of the largest in Andover’s Model UN history. The conference hosted delegates from PA, Kimball Union Academy, Dana Hall School, Concord Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy. During the opening ceremony, Hoonie Moon ’10, President of Andover’s Model UN club, expressed his hopes for the conference and told the delegates to forget the incentive of the awards presented at the end of the day. Moon said that Afghanistan, Bosnia, North Korea and Sri Lanka—the countries under discussion at PAIMUN—are “nations very far away, outside what we call here the ‘Andover Bubble.’” “Yet for some reason, we have come together to come up with solutions to starvation, dictatorship, civil strife and even genocide,” Moon continued. Representatives in the General Assembly debated over the war in Afghanistan, focusing on the predicament of terrorist groups and their problematic use of Pakistan’s tribal areas as havens for the development of their criminal activity. PAIMUN was divided into distinct committees, such as the General Assembly, Security Council or smaller Cabinets, much like the real United Nations. Delegates in the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) Cabinet replicated NATO’s role during and after the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995. At the time of the conflict, NATO and “the international community shirked moral responsibility to protect civilians in their moment of greatest peril,” according to Andover’s Model UN website. But the simulated NATO Cabinet provided its delegates with an opportunity to rewrite history. Two of PAIMUN’s three Security Councils discussed North Korea’s recent experimentation in nuclear technology, the continued development of its nuclear program and its controversial missile testing, which have strained its relations with the international community. The third Security Council explored the ethnic schism in Sri Lanka, which has resulted in terrorism, violence and the displacement of civilians, leaving the entire Sri Lankan population in turmoil. Moon called on the delegates to “think about the suffering that is happening many miles away.” “A lot of the students from the other schools really had a different way of approaching the issue,” Moon said. “I think Andover students had the opportunity to see new styles of debate and form for [participating] in Model UN. Having that diversity was good.” Teruyo Shimazu, faculty advisor to Andover’s Model UN, said, “I was very surprised that despite the crazy schedule, kids were so well prepared and took the matter very seriously. The depth of the research was amazing.” Shimazu said that she especially saw a “huge improvement” in the public speaking skills and overall presentation of returning Model UN participants. In addition, Shimazu said that she thought this year’s conference was more accessible to the public and quite “participant-friendly.” Will Lindsey ’10, a board member of Model UN, thought the conference was well organized and had a “great attendance,” remarking that the event had a greater number of schools present than ever before. Thomas Hodgson, Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, delivered the conference’s keynote speech. Hodgson reminded the students gathered before him of the true goals of the UN: to “secure peace between nations… and to secure human rights for every person on this planet,” he said. Correction: The Phillipian incorrectly identified the Andover Inivtational as the first tournament at which participants could qualify for the World Debate and Public Speaking Championships. Jenn Schaffer ’10 had previously qualified for Worlds at the International Independent School Public Speaking Competition at Deerfield Academy. The Phillipian regrets the error.