Hot Take: Why the Model U.N. Trip Was Cancelled

Claire Killian

This article is an opinion piece which reflects the belief of the author and is in no way the position of RHS on this matter.

It was a Tuesday afternoon like any other. I was jittery with excitement for my first Model U.N. (MUN) conference, at the actual U.N. headquarters. I had yet to pack, but was reviewing my research, facts, and figures for the upcoming event. That was, until, I received a jaw-dropping GroupMe from the club president saying that the school had canceled our trip due to the coronavirus. I hardly had a minute to process before the fire alarm suddenly exploded and I had to haphazardly shove my books into my backpack and filed outside.

Outside, I immediately convened with my friends who were also going on the trip, and were as baffled as I was. At this point, there were only one, maybe two, confirmed cases in New York State. As none of us actually knew what was going on, our questions only fed the confusion. Why would they cancel it eighteen hours before we were scheduled to leave? Would we get our money back? Could we attend another conference that year? What about all our research? We knew basically nothing.

What followed is a credit to both our school and club leaders. Our club president schedule a meeting early the next morning with Mr. Bannon, the club advisor, and the administration. They ran through all the possible options, but concluded that there was very little that could actually be done. The final consensus seemed to be that there we would most likely all get our money back, and that some other conferences may allow us to register late due to our current situation. Mrs. Taylor continued to meet with club members throughout the day, as some students elected to register for the conference independent of our school, meaning they could still compete, but had no school to represent, no excused absences, and no hotel rooms.

Despite the school’s response, I was still frustrated. There were so few cases in New York State, and not to mention that, as teenagers, we’re in the lowest-risk demographic. The U.N. was already taking precautions against the virus, by making sure to sanitize the building regularly, making it most likely a far more safe environment than even our school. Of course, the concern was that with so many foreign diplomats, and students from across the country, and even the world, that germs would flow freely, and those fears are understandable. However, RHS sports teams continue to have games, and even compete in higher-level finals, despite the disease. In Washington, the state with the most fatalities, the disease spread through the Seattle suburbs, and with a confirmed case coming from New Rochelle, Westchester was no longer so safe. It is so infuriating that this thing which we had looked forward to, and worked towards, was cancelled seemingly arbitrarily as the school continues to allow athletes to compete, and risks exposing them to the coronavirus.

My conspiracy theory on the matter is that the school felt pressure from parents to respond to the outbreak, and so took pointless and strange precautions. All the articles coming from every news source tends to highlight the same three things relating to coronavirus preparedness: follow the CDC for updates, wash your hands, and make sure you know the emergency procedures for your school, workplace, and community. I believe that the administration suddenly had to field a barrage of emails coming from parents asking for a plan, a response, anything. So, they canceled our trip, and some middle school field trips, to make it seem like they were on top of the outbreak. This illusion of readiness did nothing to actually stop anyone from getting sick, I firmly believe we all would have been fine anyways, but rather they took away the one event a year MUN does. While I respect and am very grateful for the way individuals in the administration, particularly Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Bannon, and all the upperclassmen in MUN, fought for us and tried to come up with alternatives, the hypocrisy and triviality of this response is frustrating to say the least.