Fay Delegates at Harvard Model Congress
Fay’s Model Congress Club sent its first-ever delegation to the Harvard Model Congress in Boston at the end of the winter term. Harvard’s Model Congress is the largest congressional simulation conference in the world, with over 1500 student participants. Over the four-day event, students debate and craft bills, give testimony, engage in press conferences, and tackle unexpected crises as they get an inside look at how government works.
Each student is assigned a role and a committee in the Model Congress, which may or may not align with their political inclinations. For example, a student might be given the role of a Democratic Senator from California on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and they need to research and understand what the liberal perspective on the issues might be. “The idea is to put yourself aside, embrace the role and do research on it,” says English Department Chair Dr. Joseph Mendes, who advises the Model Congress Club. The students have been working on logic and rhetoric during their club meetings, but to succeed, they must be self-starters and motivated to do significant prep work on their own.
The Fay students crafted bills that passed their committees and the full House and Senate, and one was signed into law by the Presidential Cabinet. That bill would require U.S. Nationals traveling into certain known conflict zones to purchase ransom insurance to offset the costs of their rescue or ransom if they are kidnapped. Fay delegate Izzy P. ’23 won best delegate for her work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was particularly impressive given that many of the delegates were high school seniors taking AP Government.
The event gave students an immersive perspective on the inner workings of government and an appreciation for the variables that can derail the process, from obstructionist colleagues to unexpected crises. This year, during committee meetings, climate change activists burst into the room, chanting and disrupting the proceedings. “They’ve got to pivot to those sorts of crises,” says Dr. Mendes. “It’s very immersive, and the kids love that aspect.”