Political organization

Members of the Model Organization of American States debate at the annual conference

Baylor MOAS members participate in the 26th Annual Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States. Photo courtesy of Baylor MOAS.

By Lily Nussbaum | Personal editor

Baylor University hosted the 26th annual Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States, allowing students from the Model Organization of American States to compete internationally against other schools.

MOAS is a model program designed to help students understand Organization of American States. Through the model, students research, craft resolutions, and debate complex issues facing the Western Hemisphere, such as food insecurity and energy innovation.

Evansville, Ill., senior Logan Butler said he’s no stranger to the conference. He joined MOAS his freshman year after spotting the organization at Late Night. This year, in his seventh semester with MOAS, Butler led the organization as president.

“It was very rewarding, especially to be able to host many schools from Mexico and be able to work with them as well,” Butler said. “The stress was there, but it was worth it.”

During the November 3-5 convention, students from various schools were divided into teams, and each received a member state of the Organization of American States. They then had to research and adopt their state’s views before presenting and defending resolutions consistent with their country’s position. This year, Baylor had two teams: Argentina and Chile.

“When you have to see people arguing who aren’t communists but have to argue from the position of socialist countries, you’re like, ‘It’s like a deeply personal thing,'” Butler said. “It kind of teaches you a lot more empathy from other people.”

Vanessa Cham, a Rockwall junior and member of MOAS, said she leads the Chilean team as the main delegate. In this position, she said she was in charge of playing the president of Chile.

After being assigned their state, students have the semester to conduct in-depth research into the economic, social, and political opinions and norms of the countries of their choice. With a new chilean president whose views are in stark contrast to the previous one, Cham said she needed to do extensive research.

“You don’t become yourself anymore,” Cham said. “I kind of have to look at Chile’s position, look at the president as a person and see what kind of thing he would want.”

Within the two teams, there were four committees. Cham said her position placed her on the general committee, which looked at how to strengthen and modernize the Organization of American States. The subject debated by each committee varies from year to year, but the students of their respective committees must propose resolutions based on the chosen subject.

Butler said students can serve on committees tailored to their interests. For example, business students can be placed on an economic development committee throughout the hemisphere.

“You don’t have to be a history or political scientist to join,” Butler said. “You can do that and be in other disciplines, and that’s just as valuable and just as crucial.”

Cham, as a neuroscience major, said her involvement with MOAS changed her plans for her future. Originally, she said she planned to attend medical school right after college, but a new passion for public health opened up the possibility of an alternative path.

“This program basically helped me break out of the bubble I was in and really learn about healthcare as a whole,” Cham said. “How do other countries do it and how do we work together to make sure everyone gets the health care they are entitled to?”

Since Butler attended the convention for so long, he said he has made some friends he keeps in touch with. Various schools attend the convention, ranging from Texas A&M University-Commerce to Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and Butler said he learns and knows a diverse group of students.

“I was able to see some freshman and sophomore friends who came back, and they were from different schools, and you know, those relationships don’t have to go away,” Butler said. “Character, personality and things can transcend the language barrier.”

At the end of the two and a half days of intensive debate and diplomacy, an awards ceremony and dinner took place in the Barfield Drawing Room. The Chilean team and the Argentine team both received several awards, such as the title of Outstanding Head of Delegation, which was awarded to Mari Benavides.