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Senators and Subcommittees: Groton Takes Model Congress

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From February 22, 2018 to February 25, 2018, Groton students attended the Harvard Model Congress conference in Boston. The group, which consisted of eight boys and four girls, attended the conference held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, along with about 1500 students from other schools. Model Congress is about half the size of Model United Nations (MUN), and most students that take part are from the United States, whereas many MUN delegates are from outside the country. Mr. Lamont says, “It is a great opportunity to get to know what the American Congress is like and how it works. It is similar to Model UN in a lot of ways, but is also a one-of-a kind experience.”

 

Model Congress, like Model UN, involves a political simulation with group meetings. However, Model Congress simulates the American government, not the United Nations. In Model Congress simulations, students can develop a better understanding of the political process involved in the Congress. Each student is assigned a political figure in the Congress and has to accurately act and speak on behalf of their views during the conference. It is crucial that students represent their district or state, depending on whether they are in the House of Representatives or the Senate, as well as their political party. There are also entities outside the House of Representatives and the Senate such as the National Security Council, which represent other bodies in the United States government. Throughout the conference, students debate various domestic policy issues and exchange ideas and proposals. The entire conference follows the parliamentary debate procedure, meaning that there are moderated and unmoderated caucuses with different speaking times. The main goal at the end of the day is to pass bills, and students collaborate with other participants both within and outside of conferences to write and pass legislation that focus on their topics.

 

To prepare for the conference, Groton representatives put in two hours every Sunday for about two months. Model Congress delegates were assigned to write a speech that represents their figure’s views on various topics. Since MUN and MCONG are held about a month apart, students from each conference took turns helping one another on these research and pre-conference assignments.

 

Students attended the opening ceremonies as soon as they arrived on the first day, then proceeded to House and Senate/Special Programs committee meetings. On the second day, students were free during the morning, and later attended Special Programs committee meetings and Senate and House full sessions and committee meetings throughout the whole afternoon. After dinner, the committee meetings resumed until 10pm. The third day included committee sessions throughout the morning and afternoon, and students were free starting from 5:30pm. There was a “Delegate Ice Cream Social Party” from 9pm to 10:30pm, which was an opportunity for delegates to get to know each other even if they were not in the same committees. The last committee meetings were on the morning of the last day, and the closing ceremony followed afterwards.

 

Model Congress, along with Model United Nations, provides a chance for students to further their interests in politics while meeting different people with diverse perspectives. Brooks Anderson ’20 was able to pass four bills in subcommitee sessions and 1 bill in a full Senate meeting.  Katherine Brown ’19 said, “This was my second time participating in Model Congress… It was so fun last year and since I had a better sense of what it’s like, I was more confident and was able to participate more fully.” Brooks said, “I am fascinated by the workings of our government, and I think Model Congress is a great way to experience politics firsthand. This was my first time, and I really enjoyed working with like-minded people to come up with resolutions and pass them.”

 

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