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Conflict Management in Higher Ed Report
Volume 3, Number 3, May 2003

National Intercollegiate
Mediation Tournament

Although the process and formats of mediation are quite different than mock trial, the goals are not. The mediation tournaments still seek to introduce students to a methodology for finding resolution; to train students in important communication skills; and to give the student all the benefits of intercollegiate competition and camaraderie. However, the mediation tournaments and the training offered at the tournaments give students one important additional benefit: it trains them in skills which they can take back to their campuses and use while still in school. These students are equipped to reach out to others on campus and help them to find a peaceful resolution to conflict.

The National Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament has completed its third season. This year 20 teams from across the nation competed. As in mock trial, students who demonstrated exceptional skills were recognized with Intercollegiate All-American® mediator honors.

In the mediation tournaments, teams are made up of three students each. In each preliminary round one student is the mediator, another the advocate, and the third the client. Each member of every school's team must participate as the mediator in one of the three preliminary rounds. In each round, co-mediators from different schools conduct the mediation. They mediate a case involving two advocate/client pairs from schools other than their own. After three preliminary rounds, the top four teams based on points awarded to each team member in the preliminary rounds go on to the finals. The point totals for the final round determines team ranking. Intercollegiate All-American® mediator honors are awarded to these mediators and mediators from other teams who individually showed exceptional mediation skills but whose teams did not reach the finals.

One clear distinction between the mediation tournaments and mock trial tournaments is that competition is less noticeable in the former. Because students must co-mediate with students from another school there is considerably more rapport built among the students. Students feel there is considerably less pressure on them to “win,” and more on learning and working with others. Further, at every mediation tournament, there is training in mediation available for students and team coaches.

Those of us who are members of the National Intercollegiate Mock Mediation Tournament Board are quite enthusiastic about the program for several reasons: First, it gives students who may not be as aggressive as “mockers” an opportunity to learn and participate in a meaningful intercollegiate activity. Second, it introduces students to a new and dynamic methodology for problem solving that avoids the traditional adversarial format. Third, it encourages students, at an early age, to identify themselves as peacemakers and to conduct their personal lives in nonconfrontational ways, which can only make them better people. And, fourth, it introduces students to a movement which is beginning to have a profound effect in the legal system and society generally.

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