Bethel University students gather to discuss human rights, foreign and domestic issues and how change can affect the future.
Callie Schmidt | For the Clarion
Bethel junior Jolene Rotich stood in front of a group of students in AC333 as the Model United Nations meeting began with a question.
“What do you think ‘human rights’ means,” Rotich asked.
Members of the Model UN club at Bethel were present Thursday, as well as students who were interested in human rights. According to Bethel senior and club President Matt Stock, Model UN seeks to spread awareness of international issues around campus.
Kelly Russell, senior international relations major, presented alongside Rotich. The group is made up of roughly 40 members from varying majors. Political science professor, Christopher Moore, oversees the club as the advisor.
Russell and Rotich discussed topics of human rights such as Guantanamo Bay, the current European refugee crisis and the Burundian conflict. Russell led discussion concerning Guantanamo Bay, a military prison positioned in Cuba that is controlled by the U.S. Navy. A video was shown that depicted the forms of torture used at the prison. The video revealed the prion costs taxpayers $140 million per year.
Russell discussed the European refugee crisis. 11 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes as a result of Civil War in the region. She showed a picture of a sign at a protest in Germany saying, “Rapefugees not welcome – stay away!”
Rotich changed the topic to the unrest in Burundi, where political upheaval has erupted due to the current president taking on a third term in office. Riots in April 2015 led to violence between government forces and armed rebel groups, resulting in hundreds of deaths including protesters, civil rights activists and journalists.
When Rotich studied abroad in Kenya, she heard firsthand experiences from Burundians. “There were some students from Burundi who were talking about the situation going on, how not only was the government going against the people, but there are other people attacking others because of the unrest,” she said. “There was confusion and human rights violations.”
Rotich compared the situation in Burundi to Rwanda in which the national community did not intervene.
“Who is responsible for preventing human rights violations from happening? Does the international community have an obligation to step in in this case, or does that infringe upon sovereignty?” Rotich proposed these questions as Russell opened the floor for discussion.
The questions sparked conversation and debate, leading to possible solutions and the responsibility we have as individuals and as a nation to intervene.
- Model UN picks five general topics to cover every two weeks. Anyone is welcome to attend and participate.
- The next Model UN meeting is on Thursday, March 31 during chapel time in AC333, where Matt Stock and Tommy Nelson will be discussing topics of trade and finance.
- Other topics covered will be United Nations April 14 and foreign policy of presidential candidates April 28 at the same time and location as above.