Volume 3, Number 3, May 2003
and University campuses are dynamic places. Their internal
and external environments
change continuously based on shifting social forces, economic
conditions, legal constraints and more. A campus
often geographically dispersed, with many smaller
locations for interaction that together make up the whole.
It is reasonable to say that we are
never fully in touch with what is happening on our campus
and that we may miss important patterns related
to campus conflict that more systematic
evaluation would reveal.
Understanding conflict trends on campus can be useful for
planning prevention education efforts, and for developing
outreach and case development strategies. One method campus
conflict resolvers may wish
to consider for this purpose is
Basically the approach involves opportunistic
sampling of campus community members to get their input
on where conflict occurs on campus and what its relative
may be. The method can be employed fruitfully in conjunction
with information tables or leafleting about campus conflict
set up in
student centers, libraries, residence halls, athletic centers
and other high traffic locations. Volunteers can also use
the HotSpot map as part of their introduction to the topic
A Small Example
As an example of use of a HotSpot map, a fledgling student
conflict resolution project at Wayne State University known
as the CPR (Campus Peer Resolution) Team recently gathered
more than 100 responses to the conflict mapping instrument
pictured below while staffing an information table in the
center. Wayne State University is an urban campus with a
mix of graduate students who mainly commute or live in near-campus
apartments, and a rapidly growing number of on-campus residents
living in our new residence halls, most of whom are undergraduates.
The campus has pleasant feeling
grounds with a closed-to-traffic mall and quad, a generally
positive safety record and a very community-oriented campus
interested in how the
campus community was adapting to the increased on-campus
resident student population, and whether there were any
emergent patterns of conflict that the CPR Team might want
to attend to in their
outreach, training and education efforts.
The Team modified the sample
campus hotspot mapping tool provided in the free Campus Mediation Program Evaluation Toolkit (available online or as a downloadable Word doc) to make it refer specifically to the Wayne State University Campus. The resulting hotspot map that was used is pictured below. Participants passing by the CPR information table were asked to put Xs on the map where they thought conflict was occurring on campus, with more Xs indicating a heavier concentration or greater intensity of conflict. They were invited to explain their markup
of the map to a Team member if they had time.
Briefly stated, results from the informal data gathering
effort indicated that students were most conscious of conflicts
occurring at parties and bars, parking lots and garages, the student center, and
in the campus residences, in that order. As an example of
how mapping may provide new awareness, the CPR Team was intrigued
with the findings regarding the parking areas, as this had
not been something the Team had considered in their own assessment
of campus conflict. Team members have since conjectured that
the increased use of the parking structure by on-campus student
residents who have their car in the structures on a more or
less full-time basis may explain some of this finding. Clearly
the garages are a site of much interaction, even if it is
often done from behind the wheel of a vehicle. Also of interest
to the CPR Team were student comments (gathered by the persons
administering the instrument) regarding discomfort and conflict
(however they defined it) in student interactions with "homeless"
people in the various public spaces on campus.
It is not surprising that "homeless" people would
enjoy our campus environment as much as the students do, and
that they are a de facto part of the broader campus community
whether we like it or not. However, CPR Team members had not
considered the potential lack of experience undergraduates
may have had in interacting with this population, nor the
impact of a whole new group of student "occupants"
of social spaces that may previously have been largely the
domain of the "homeless" community members. Given
the non-representativeness of an opportunistic sample like
the one reported here, it is inappropriate to make any firm
conclusions based on this data alone. Instead, these findings
should serve as sensitizing concepts. Nevertheless, the information
has given the Wayne State CPR Team some new things to think
about as they develop their services and educational materials.
Campus conflict resolvers are encouraged to consider the
value of HotSpot mapping on your campus. It can help build
awareness, engage student volunteers, and generally provide
for a more informed approach to conflict management strategies.
More information on the HotSpot mapping approach, as well
as other research strategies, can be found in the Campus-adr.org
Research and Program Evaluation section.