Staff members were in a frenzy around a cluster of network computers, photocopiers buzzed with activity and a Tylenol dispenser sat on a table nearby.
But this wasn't the War Room of the White House. It was the Park Plaza Hotel--ground zero for the 13th annual Harvard Model Congress (HMC), which drew 1,500 high school students from across the nation for its opening ceremonies yesterday.
The weekend-long government simulation, staffed by more than 150 Harvard students, began with a keynote address by William Kristol '73.
Kristol, editor of the conservative publication The Weekly Standard and former chief of staff to former vice president J. Danforth Quayle, addressed social problems and America's involvement in international affairs.
Amid the din, conference organizers said they are excited about the coming weekend.
"This year we have a dedicated and hard-working staff who wants this conference to be the best ever," said Robert M. Stolper '00, chair of the science committee of the House of Representatives.
"The students are self-motivated to do this," said Katherine T. Wen '99, president of the Senate.
Wen said she thought the simulation would be extensive and realistic, tying together all the factors involved in politics.
"We don't really know what to expect," said Carolyn Centeno, a conference participant and a first-year at the Nightingale School in New York City.
Most of the participating schools are located outside Massachusetts.
New to the Harvard Model Congress this year: delegates may revise and resubmit bills that were initially rejected, which organizers say makes the experience even more realistic.
In his keynote speech yesterday, Kristol stressed the need to confront social problems such as family breakups and teen pregnancy. He said the 1992 Los Angeles riots were partially a product of a weakening social infrastructures and are indicative of a great need for change.
Many of the questions following his statement addressed international affairs.
"It's the time to use force," Kristol said, referring to current tensions with Iraq, "and we can't depend on other nations to do it."
"The problem with Iraq is not the nation of Iraq...The problem is Saddam Hussein," Kristol said.
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