Justice in the Campus Setting (page 2 of 4)
justice is an approach to criminal offending that emphasizes
values of democratic participation, inclusion, and stewardship
(Clear & Karp, 1999). This approach may be effectively
extended to the college arena, where misconduct is not always
illegal, but often a violation of campus honor codes and
college policies. The approach seeks to educate community
members about the need for civic commitment, and build student
capacity for evaluating the impact of their behavior on
the community. The approach seeks to legitimate college
policies by creating not only due process, but consensus
around behavioral standards, and equitable responses to
misconduct. Offender accountability is central, but balanced
with a concern for reintegration.
Community justice has four principal elements (Karp &
Clear, 2002). First, the judicial system must be accessible
to the community. The community must know of its policies,
which should be communicated clearly with a minimum of legalese.
Practices of the judicial system should be consistent and
respectful, but not rigidly bureaucratic. Second, community
members should participate actively in the process. On the
college campus, this means that students should have active
roles in the process, as would faculty, staff, and administration.
Community involvement includes the active participation
of offenders in the decision-making process. Equally important
is the voice of victims or "harmed parties."
Third, sanctioning should be guided by restorative justice
principles (Bazemore, 1998; Warters et al. 2000; Zehr, 1990).
Here, offender accountability is defined not by proportional
harm imposed on the offender, but by the offender's obligation
to make amends for the harm he or she has caused. Bazemore
and Walgrave (1999) define restorative justice as "action
that is primarily oriented toward doing justice by repairing
the harm that has been caused by a crime" (p. 48).
If a window has been broken, the offender's obligation is
to fix it. It is not possible for the offender to take responsibility
for all types of harm; he or she, for example, cannot repair
emotional harm. Nevertheless, the obligation remains for
the offender to take steps towards ameliorating such harm
through apology, expression of remorse, or victim-offender
mediation. Communal harm can be repaired through community
service work. Fourth, the offender also incurs an obligation
to reassure the community that he or she will not cause
further harm to the community. The community, in turn, must
strive to reintegrate the offender. This reciprocal process
begins with an identification of offender risk factors.
If the offender needs academic tutoring, psychological counseling,
or other competency needs, these should be made available.
Sanctions should be guided by the objectives of restoration
and reintegration so that harm is repaired and offenders
can become productive community members. Accountability
is demonstrated through expressions of remorse and commitment,
and through the completion of tasks negotiated as part of
the sanctioning process.
We have a judicial board composed primarily of students,
and secondarily of faculty and staff. The "Integrity
Board" hears cases of both social and academic integrity,
and negotiates restorative justice contracts for offenders
to complete. Board members receive a substantial training
and may receive academic credit for the training through
our Law and Society Minor Program. Consider one recent case
on our campus. A student was arrested for dealing cocaine.
After serving time in state prison, the student applied
to Skidmore to complete his senior year. He was admitted,
but one of the stipulations required him to tell his story
to other students so they might learn from his experience.
For his project, he created a 30-minute video memoir, which
the college uses as a platform for discussion about the
risks of dealing drugs. While it was tempting to deny his
readmission, enabling the student to take active responsibility
for his behavior provided the campus with a new resource
for discussing drug issues with the student body.
project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report
(Attn: Bill Warters)
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
Department of Communication
585 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48201.
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