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Facilitated Conversations

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As an impartial party, our staff may agree to facilitate conversations (mediate)  in order to provide opportunities to graduate students, staff, faculty, and campus leaders to engage in alternative dispute resolution.


Goal of Mediation

Mediation via the Ombuds can help two or more individuals have constructive conversations about important issues to gain increased understanding and work together towards resolutions. The participants, themselves, maintain control of the content and outcomes of these conversations. Mediation is always voluntary for all persons involved.

 

Role of Mediator

As impartial mediators, ombuds work to create an informal structure that fosters meaningful dialogue, mutual understanding, and informed decision-making. To do this, mediators may do things like help develop ground rules, ask questions, summarize information, reflect themes, and brainstorm ideas.  

A primary objective of the ombuds is to avoid causing harm. The ombuds reserve the right not to move forward with a mediation if they have reason to believe it is not a helpful or appropriate next step.

 

Ombuds Mediators do NOT:

  • Take sides.
  • Tell parties what to do.
  • Enforce agreements reached during mediation.
  • Report on the content or outcomes of mediation to anyone.
  • Serve as an observer or witness.

 

About Our Mediation Process

  • Prior to mediation, each participant will meet individually with an Ombuds, one or more times, to discuss their concerns and prepare for the mediated discussion. Alternatives to mediation will also be discussed and it may be concluded that mediation is not the right fit at this time. 
  • Because mediation is a voluntary process, any party may choose to withdraw from the process at any time. 
  • Mediation sessions may be facilitated by one or two ombuds. 
  • Ombuds schedule mediation sessions based upon everyone’s availability. Typically, sessions are scheduled for 2-hours. More than one session may be needed. 
  • Mediation sessions can be conducted in-person or via zoom. Typically conversations are conducted  directly between parties in real time but, in some circumstances, parties may be in separate spaces with mediators shuttling information between them. 
  • Communicating with multiple individuals and coordinating multiple schedules takes time.  As such, mediation typically takes at least a month, if not longer, to occur.