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Smack dab in the middle:
UGA offers conflict mediation

By Beth Roberts

A hypothetical conflict
Lee and Gerry share an office on campus. Space is tight in their department, and they share some expensive equipment both need in their jobs. It seems an efficient, if imperfect, arrangement.

But Lee is a sociable type, who likes to chat a bit in the course of the day about recent movies and football games and computer malfunctions. Gerry, though personable and friendly in social situations, works in silence, seemingly off in some private world.

As months pass, their working relationship begins to deteriorate. Lee decides Gerry is aloof and unfriendly; Gerry finds Lee's interruptions increasingly annoying. Both begin to avoid direct dealings--which is difficult, and even risky, since they must work together on many projects.

What happens next? Poor performance evaluations are likely; someone may quit or be fired. Add gender or racial differences to this hypothetical situation and an official grievance looms.

Certainly, before this year, a positive solution to Lee and Gerry's difficulties would have been hard to imagine--barring the sudden appearance of new, more spacious quarters or the intervention of an unusually perceptive and creative supervisor.

This academic year, however, the university has begun to offer mediation as one of the tools for resolving disagreements. The pilot project has handled 14 cases so far, involving 34 different people on campus--students, faculty, staff and administratorsÃ?

(Excerpt from Inside Info story published 03/24/97, The University of Georgia Athens)