UC explores restorative justice in improving campus climate
Feb 20, 2012
A residence hall fire alarm is pulled as a drunken prank in the middle of the night. A fellow resident, who happens to be gay, witnesses it and confronts the culprit as the building is evacuated. In the exchange of words, the prankster utters a pejorative term for a homosexual man in a profanity-laced tirade.
Fortunately, the situation was just part of a role-playing exercise. Twenty-three student affairs staff members, from all 10 University of California campuses, took part in training for restorative justice, a conflict resolution process that UC is considering for use when dealing with incidents of intolerance or hate, particularly for conduct that, while offensive, may not violate any laws or policies.
The two-day training session at the UC Office of the President offered participants guidance in facilitating and implementing restorative justice in a campus community. The safety and engagement workgroup of UC President Mark Yudof's Advisory Council on Campus Climate and the UC Student Association recommended an exploration by UC in implementing restorative justice at all its campuses.
....Campus climate came into focus at UC during the past two years after a series of highly charged racial, religious and cultural incidents on some campuses.
When these incidents occur at universities, administrators often are put in the precarious position of trying to balance the right to free speech while also striving to create a campus climate that is positive and inclusive.
"Not every wrong has a legal remedy. Students may say things that are hurtful to members of our campus community," Yudof said. "Hurtful speech may be constitutionally protected and not subject to student discipline codes, but it's still a wrong and still offends some in our community."'