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Volume 2, Number 2, Feb 2002

Mock Mediation Roleplay #6 (continued)

Tool Box

Joan and David

Joan (faculty)
At first you were interested in having David in class. He is very bright, engages in class discussions and has a reputation for being an aggressive debater. As a campus leader, David has made important contributions to the community. As a student, he is widely viewed by the faculty as having a brilliant mind and strong analytical skills. Too often students in your seminars have offered only superficial polemic in place of thoughtful and analysis and debate. You hoped that with David in the class, other students would be encouraged to participate actively in class discussions. And yet when you engaged him in debates, the situation seemed to take on a decidedly hostile tone. Instead of being a catalyst that energized others in the class, David became a provocateur, challenging your ideas and engaging you in arguments that distracted the class from what you had planned to teach. You've had students who've played "devil's advocate" before, but with David, the game had another dimension-a hidden agenda.
When he approached you last week about an extension for the final paper, he acted as though he were entitled to the extension and he was asking only as a matter of form. When you questioned the need for an extension, he became angry, and accused you of being out to get him since the beginning of the quarter. You replied that he was out of line. He started to come around the desk and you got up to meet him, putting your hands lightly on his chest to stop his progress and saying "Just back down, David." He pushed your hands away, saying "Get your fucking hands off me." Staggering backwards, you shouted at him, "Get out, now!"

A promising opportunity has gone more sour than you could have imagined. Initially you thought David would be a candidate for a prestigious graduate fellowship in international politics at Oxford (a fellowship you once received). You were prepared to sponsor him, endorse his application, and help him with the process. Now, all that you had hoped for him vanished, and in its place are feelings of anger, disappointment, and frustration.
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