In this brief piece, Linda Baron presents some of the similarities between
campus mediation work and that of community mediation
centers and provides readers of the Report with more
information on some of the potential benefits of membership
in the National Association for Community Mediation
are the characteristics of community mediation centers?
of the major characteristics of community mediation centers
are that they use trained community volunteers as the
primary providers of mediation services and provide services
to clients regardless of their ability to pay. Centers
may be free-standing private non-profit organizations,
programs within such non-profits, or programs within public
agencies. Centers not only provide mediation services,
but also provide training and engage in a wide variety
of public awareness and educational activities about the
values and practice of mediation. For most centers, their
primary service is providing mediation for inter-personal
disputes. Most disputants are referred to community mediation
centers from courts or social service agencies, but many
disputants are self-referred. In addition to mediation
services, many centers also provide facilitation and organizational
development assistance and may intervene in community-wide
disputes. In addition to training their own volunteers,
many centers provide a wide range of training in conflict
management, mediation, and facilitation to the members
of their community.
are community mediation centers similar to campus centers
and what are some models of campus-based centers?
campus programs, community mediation centers serve their
community and rely primarily on trained volunteers to
provide conflict resolution services. Community mediation
centers, like campus centers, vary broadly in size, in
the sizes of the geographic areas they serve, in the demographics
of the communities they serve, in the kinds of cases they
mediate, and in the other types of services offered.
are several types of centers with different campus-community
relationships. Some centers primarily serve the on-campus
community and may only be involved in an off-campus dispute
if it involves members of the campus community. Some centers
are housed on campuses, but primarily serve the off-campus
community. Some of these centers have funding from the
host college or university and some have staff who are
also employed by the host. Some centers serve both the
off-campus and the on-campus community, while other centers
are located off-campus and primarily serve the off-campus
community, but may engage in special projects on-campus,
use interns from the campus community, or provide training
can campus-based and community-based programs work together?
are many ways for both campus-based and community-based
programs to work together. In communities that are served
both by campus programs and by community mediation centers,
a variety of partnerships could be created. For example,
if either organization is asked to intervene in a dispute
that involves both communities, the dispute could be mediated
by co-mediators, one from the community mediation center
and one from the campus program. For example, a landlord-tenant
dispute involving a student or a noise dispute regarding
noise from the campus, might be mediated best by mediators
from each program. A dispute about parking or perceived
encroachment by the campus on the surrounding community
could be co-mediated by mediators from each center. Another
possible partnership could use the concept of shared neutrals.
If the mediators in the campus program were considered
too close to a particular conflict to be considered impartial,
a mediator from the community program could be asked to
intervene in the dispute.
is the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM)
and how can NAFCM membership benefit campus-based centers?
is a membership organization for community mediation centers,
staff, and volunteer mediators. As the only national organization
of community mediation centers, NAFCM serves as a national
voice and an advocate of community mediation in legislative,
policy-making, professional and other arenas. NAFCM members
are eligible to apply for minigrants to develop new programs,
receive training and improve organizational effectiveness,
promote diversity and social justice, and technology.
Staff from member centers may attend regional training
institutes to learn about how to improve the management
and administration of their centers. NAFCM offers professional
liability and directors/officers insurance for community
mediation centers. Professional liability insurance covers
all mediations conducted by center staff AND volunteers,
with premiums based on the center’s budget rather
than the number of mediators covered. NAFCM’s 300
community mediation center members are connected electronically
through a listserv where centers exchange ideas, opinions,
experiences, and materials almost instantaneously. Using
the list, centers have conducted informal research, taught
each other how to establish new programs, and built a
true virtual community.
information about NAFCM is available at www.nafcm.org
or by calling Erika Acerra, Membership and Program Manager,
at (202) 667-9700 x224.
Baron is the Executive Director for the National Association
for Community Mediation.