Beginning Thoughts on The Values and Ethics of a Campus Mediation Center
The structure (collaborative and boundary-crossing) and volunteerism of a campus mediation program provides program supporters with an opportunity to convey a specific set of values to the campus community. In addition to being a conflict resolution service, the Center can provide an educational experience that can be quite significant both for the disputants and for Center volunteers. Some of the values that can be modeled by program participants include the following:
1) Conflicts are part of life’s experiences and have positive value.
Conflict is not the exception. It is the norm and familar to everyone. Conflicts have meaning. When this meaning is understood disputants have an opportunity to improve and change their situation.
2) The peaceful expression of conflict within the campus community is a positive value.
Perhaps the easiest way for a campus community to assist in the resolution of conflict is to advocate for its early and peaceful expression, not waiting until it has escalated and can no longer be avoided before taking action.
3) Combining individual and campus/community acceptance of responsibility for a conflict is a positive value.
The campus community can demonstrate its willingness to share responsibility for conflict resolution by making available to persons in conflict a team of competent and trained volunteer community mediators. However, the mediators must place the responsibility on the disputants for the actual expression and resolution of the conflict. By building a new structure like the Mediation Center on the campus, the community is maintaining a vital mechanism for the direct expression and reduction of conflicts that maintains control in the hands of the disputing parties.
4) The voluntary resolution of conflict between disputants is a positive value.
We can model the advantages of cooperation and mutual responsibility-taking if we keep participation strictly voluntary and work toward jointly constructed agreements that address the needs of both parties.
5) Campus diversity and tolerance for differences are positive values.
The mediation process, especially when using our co-mediator teams, can be used to model respect for diversity, and may help provide a space where tolerance for differences can be learned by disputants.
By Bill Warters, based on values originally espoused by San Francisco Community Boards.