Informal Student Complaints
Welcome to the Office of Student Facilitation & Mediation (SFM). The SFM team provides informal, confidential and voluntary avenues toward dispute resolution. Unlike the formal grievance process, the informal facilitation or mediation process does not involve a formal investigation, and the parties involved control the decision making process. It operates primarily through informal, interest-based mediation. Mediation, or facilitated negotiation, is a process in which a neutral party (the Student Dispute Resolution Facilitator) assists individuals in conflict to:
- Discuss and discover underlying issues of concern;
- Develop better understanding of their concerns and the perspectives of other participants;
- Make voluntary and informed decisions during the dispute resolution process.
Mediation is not a legal proceeding. The advantage of mediation is that it can be conducted in almost any setting. Here are some basic principles of mediation:
- Mediation is voluntary. Participants should not feel forced into making decisions during mediation and always have the option to discontinue participation.
- Mediation involves informed decision making. This means that full disclosure of relevant information is expected. The Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators may choose to terminate the mediation if they believe participants are not able to make informed decisions, such as when participants withhold or misrepresent information.
- Participants themselves make decisions in mediation. There are two aspects to this. First, participants are solely responsible for making decisions. Second, there are many types of decisions that participants may make, including whether or not to pursue mediation, who should be involved in the discussion, how to explore additional information, what options are preferable, and so on.
- Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators are neutral. Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators, who serve as mediators, will not make decisions for participants or make any judgments of who is right or wrong. Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators have nothing to gain or lose in any particular outcome and treat all participants in a fair and balanced way. The main goal of the Student Dispute Resolution Facilitator is to help create an environment for the parties to make voluntary and informed decisions.
- Mediation is a confidential process. Student Dispute Resolution Center team members will not reveal anything that happens or is said during mediation to any other person, outside the Student Dispute Resolution Center, except as permitted by law or as necessary to implement a resolution. Allegations of child abuse or threats of future harm to any person shall not be held confidential and may be revealed as appropriate by the Student Dispute Resolution Facilitator. Likewise, participants themselves are asked to keep confidential everything that is communicated during mediation, except as they agree otherwise or as permitted by law.
The University encourages students to resolve their concerns at the departmental level and understands that sometimes another level of dispute resolution or conflict management might be necessary. For more information about the facilitation and mediation processes, please contact the Center at 866.974.5700, ext. 4870 or firstname.lastname@example.org.