Mediation is a process in which two individuals or groups meet to resolve a conflict with the facilitation and help of a neutral third party. Mediation sessions at Penn State are one hour long and are conducted confidentially and safely by mediators who are Office of Student Conduct staff or affiliates that have been trained to assist people in airing their concerns, clearing up misunderstandings, and arriving at a resolution that is agreeable to both parties. In order to ensure neutrality, the mediators assigned to each case are approved by all of the parties involved.
Common issues that can be resolved through mediation
- Interpersonal/friendship disputes
- Off-campus roommate disputes
- Co-worker disputes
- Disputes with neighbors
- Disputes with faculty/staff
Why should I try mediation?
- Mediation can lead to a resolution in a timely manner that is acceptable to both parties and allows people to preserve their relationship
- The focus of mediation is to seek a mutually acceptable agreement between parties
- Mediation creates and explores many options for resolution and provides a forum for open communication
- Mediation has a high success rate
- Mediation is free to enrolled Penn State University Park students
- Mediation is structured so that it is voluntary and involves a good faith and active effort from all involved parties
- The parties are expected to take ownership of the agreements reached, which results in greater compliance, cooperation, and feelings of satisfaction
What does mediation have to do with student conduct?
In most cases, mediation will not be a part of the student conduct process. On occasion, mediation may be utilized in conjunction with or in lieu of a conduct process as approved by the Senior Director.
What happens to the information I share during a mediation session?
One of the advantages of mediation is the degree of privacy. Information disclosed to the mediator by the parties during the course of the mediation will not be divulged without cause. Students are asked to keep the information shared confidential. Mediators will respond to information according to University Policy and/or professional standards. Most records, reports or other documents received or created during mediation are not maintained beyond the conclusion of the mediation process.
The Office of Student Conduct is required to report any suspicion of current abuse of a minor child or any threat of harm to self or others that may be revealed by participants during the mediation process. The Office of Student Conduct also reserves the right to intervene in situations where students’ health or well-being may be threatened. Additionally, students may be referred to other appropriate services.
How do I request a mediation session?
- You may call the Office of Student Conduct or walk-in to our suite in 120 Boucke Building to schedule a mediation intake appointment
- A case manager will meet with you; You will have a chance to explain the conflict and to identify the party or parties you wish to invite to mediation and using the information you provide, the case manager will decide if mediation is appropriate
- If appropriate, the case manager will have you fill out a Mediation Intake Form; The case manager will then contact the invited parties and determine whether they are interested in being part of the mediation process
- If all parties agree to mediate, a session date and time will be arranged
Participation in the mediation process is voluntary. The Office of Student Conduct cannot force any person to agree to mediation or attend sessions. If the conflict presented by the student during intake is not appropriate for mediation, the student may be referred to other campus or community resources.