Student Mediation Program at Penn Expands
Tuesday, October, 8, 2019
Penn recently announced it would expand its student mediation and conflict program to the Restorative Practices at Penn Program (RP@Penn) within the Office of Student Conduct. The program makes rulings in cases that violate the student code of conduct and uses various practices including conflict coaching and communication workshops to help students and student groups to resolve disputes. In the tradition of the practice of mediation, the program is not mandated and is suggested on a case-by-case basis when code of conduct issues arises.
In the past, the process was more traditional and used a retributive model. Administrators would determine what a student did wrong and then determine a punishment. The modern approach is restorative and the goal of the program is to consider who was harmed, what everyone’s needs are now, and to find a solution that helps to heal those issues. At the very least, this approach acknowledges the people who were harmed and addresses everyone’s needs.
The program has been in operation since the late summer of 2018 and it includes over 70 campus partners that collaborate with several administrative departments. It utilizes dispute resolution methods that are pulled from a variety of traditional practices including those of Native Americans, First Nation, and other Indigenous People of North America, and leaders of the program are quick to point out that the methods used were not invented by those at Penn. The program is not available those who violate academic integrity or those who are involved in matters related to violence or sexual assault.