Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU’s Diplomacy Program funded by donors, but students still might have to pay

With the aid of anonymous donors, FAU’s Diplomacy program funds all it can for students to participate in travel-oriented competitions.
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Morton.
Student Anne Cathrine in the General Assembly

There has been some controversy over the state of funding for FAU’s Diplomacy Program (DP), dating back to November 2022 when Student Government Senator Kaila Palmer remarked on Twitter that students may have to pay out of pocket for national Model UN (MUN) competitions. 

Palmer also noted that academic programs are underfunded in comparison to athletics. Fear not MUN participants, as National MUN competition expenses are now majorly covered by donors. 

The DP is a highly-acclaimed program that offers students interested in international affairs the opportunity to expand upon public speaking, diplomacy, negotiation, conflict resolution and research skills. Established in 1996, the program participates in Nationals in Washington in the fall and New York in the spring.

Jeffrey Morton, director of the DP, explains that it is fully funded by donations from the community, and does not receive any financial aid from the university. 

According to Morton, the DP uses these community donations to pay for student registration for conferences, hotel rooms and students’ research binders. He stressed that travel to and from the competitions is strictly the responsibility of the students. Without the donors, the DP would not be funded at all.

One caveat to the funding of the DP is that it is largely located in endowed accounts which allocate earnings annually.

“If the invested funds grow, the fund pays out the program. If investments do not make money due to market decline, the allocation is affected,” said Morton.  

Palmer added in simpler terms that if the market declines, “students will most likely have to pay.”

Funding for the DP has varied in the past, however. Morton remarks that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, students in the DP paid a participation fee of $250 that would go towards the purchase of airfare for Washington D.C. or New York City. This fee was suspended as conferences moved online due to the pandemic. 

Now, rather than charge a participation fee, students are responsible for booking their own flights. Students have reported this to cost less than the previous participation fee, according to Morton. The general consensus for flight prices reported to Morton are around $150-$250. 

This new transportation method has proven to be better suited for students, not only based on the pricing but for scheduling as well. Students can choose when to leave according to their class schedules.

While the funding situation for the DP seems to be working at eliminating as many costs as possible for students, other DPs have shown that more can be done. 

The DP at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Dartmouth is exploring ideas to bring in more funding for their MUN teams.

“We have looked into various fundraising ideas by working within the local community, and advertising to students on campus by having movie nights, bake sales, plates of food, etc,” said Nicole Kach, UMass Dartmouth MUN co-president.

Other solutions to funding issues have been solved by putting limitations on the amount of students able to participate in national competitions, which can be seen at Baylor University’s DP.

“We have a budget through our college and our department, which is enough for us to take approximately 12-14 students to both NMUN-DC and NMUN-NY each year,” said Rebecca McCumbers Flavin, advisor for Baylor MUN.

Though the number of participants is limited, Baylor is able to fully fund these students aside from incidentals, paying for their hotel, airfare and conference registration fees.

Amira Kattaria is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected]

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