New UN student organization allows for students to participate in international advocacy

The United Nations Association at Iowa, a newly formed student organization, is working towards promoting the United Nations’ principles, allowing for students to make a difference.


Tate Hildyard

United Nations Association President, Carolina Herrera and Director of Supply Chain and Logistics, Sam Andrus pose for a portrait at Cortado in downtown Iowa City on Tuesday, February 4th, 2020. The United Nations Association at Iowa is a student org dedicated to educating Iowa City and the university on the United Nations and international relations matters.

Rachel Schilke, News Reporter

Newly formed University of Iowa student organization the United Nations Association at Iowa promises to dedicate time to the promotion of the United Nations’ principles and stances on worldwide issues.

The student organization was originally created in 2006 at the UI. However, Carolina Herrera, president of the United Nations Association, said it lacked organizational structure and was ineffective in advocating for the UN, leading to the deactivation of its student-organization status.

Herrera and her executive team created an active organization this year with a clear mission devoted to supporting the ideas of the United Nations, she said.

“We want to promote the importance of the United Nations, what they believe, and what they want to accomplish,” Herrera said. “We focus a lot on sustainability goals, gender roles, and climate change, because those are the most timely.”

The United Nations Association at Iowa adheres to the 17 sustainable development goals set by the United Nations, Herrera said, working hard to educate students at the UI on their importance and how to fulfill the goals. Those include far-reaching targets such as ending poverty, achieving food security for all, and ensuring a quality education.

The organization is made up of eight executive board members, each in charge of a committee that is made up of general members. Paul Richards, treasurer of the United Nations Association at Iowa, said the organization relies upon feedback from their general members.

“We, as an executive board, listen to what the general assembly thinks and what they want to discuss, and then we designate what needs to be done to address the important issues,” Richards said.

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The United Nations Association members consider themselves the advocates for students at the university, offering an opportunity to speak about what students feel is important both in the United States and internationally.

“The United Nations seems big and a bit unattainable, but having this chapter allows us to achieve a reachable goal,” Richards said.

The organization’s executive team understands the importance of educating students on the United Nations, especially those members with firsthand experience both domestic and abroad.

Both Richards and Sam Andrus, supply chain logistics chair for the United Nations Association at Iowa, have served in the military — the Air Force and Army respectively.

Andrus said his experience overseas helped him bring ideas and structure to the organization.

“I had a firsthand look at places where the global population was lacking, and it showed me that we can step up as Americans and as University of Iowa students to make an impact,” Andrus said.

Both Richards and Herrera worked in Washington with foreign delegations. Herrera attended a United Nations leadership summit, advocating for the U.S. to fund the UN fully.

Actively participating at the summit was a rewarding experience, Herrera said.

“Being there, we can see what we can do to make things better, and then we pitch our ideas to Congress,” she said.

Secretary Averie Robertson believes that the United Nations Association offers the student body many opportunities. Students have a chance to do more than just learn the structure of the United Nations and participate in school activities, Robertson said.

“A lot of students want to make a difference but don’t know how,” Robertson said. “The United Nations Association is special, because students feel like they are making a difference and a part of something bigger than themselves.”

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