The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

New student group ready to mediate campus disputes

Sick of those crazy third years fighting on your floor all the time? A new campus group, Peer Mediation and Conflict Resolution, can help. Though several students and recent alums have been working to develop peer mediation at Grinnell, Aurora Quinn-Elmore ’12 has taken most of the initiative behind the start-up program.

Quinn-Elmore says she was prompted to start a mediation program after taking part in an intensive mediation and conflict resolution training over fall break of last year. The training was led by a professional mediator and attended by 18 Grinnell students and two staff members.

“It was a really cool training. Actually, I think the thing that struck me was, this was maybe five months after the cups party,” said Quinn-Elmore. “I was one of the women targeted in that, and that was one of the motivations for me to set up the program.”

Quinn-Elmore is referring to Cunnilingus, a party thrown in the Spring of 2010 that included offensive statements directed at many women in the Grinnell community.

“A lot of women had close friendships with the guys who were involved in that, and there was just a lot of hurt and betrayal. People wanted to repair their friendships but they didn’t know how to…” said Quinn-Elmore. “I know they did a lot of things like the forum … but fice months later I did this mediation training, and I sort of wish that we had had a mediation program on campus at the time when the cups party happened, because I think that would have been really useful to repair relationships.”

Mediation can also foster open communication between two parties in a conflict, whether that conflict is between roommates, coworkers, romantic interests, friends or just fellow students.

“More generally, I just remembered fights with friends, where either I wasn’t able to make all of the points I wanted to, or [the points] were misunderstood,” said Quinn-Elmore. “It’s hard enough to try to deal with a problem with a friend, but then often you sort of aren’t able to communicate what you’re trying to communicate … and then that’s sort of where the role of mediator comes in.”

A student who is interested in bringing a conflict through peer mediation should email [mediation] with his or her name, a brief description of the conflict, and a time he or she is available to meet.

From there, each party willing to participate will meet individually with the two peer mediators assigned to the conflict to give his or her side of the story. Then the mediators will meet with both parties together, so both sides can hear each other out. Participants will be able to view a list of mediators beforehand to avoid those whom they worry might have a conflict of interest.

The mediation group, which is funded by the Peace Studies Program, Diversity and Achievement and the Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice, is collaborating with Residence Life to help support students. The group is trying to make peer mediation a resource available for Student Advisors.

While setting up the mediation program, Quinn-Elmore spoke with each Residence Life Coordinator and sat in on SA meetings.

“I think most SAs are really, really good at what they’re doing, [but] I think some SAs have a little less experience with conflict resolution training,” said Quinn-Elmore. “Some SAs are great at handling conflict, some of them, you know, that’s not their skill set. … So they can bring us in to mediate a conflict on their floor that they’re not comfortable handling alone for whatever reason.”

Quinn-Elmore is also currently organizing another training opportunity for students who wish to become mediators. The training session will be led by Nancy Markowitz, a mediator Quinn-Elmore knows personally from a mediation internship she had this summer. The training, which will be four days long, will take place over fall break and is free of charge. Interested students should email [mediation] for more information.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *