CU-Boulder Peer Mediation Group Aims To Solve Student Conflicts

Published: Sept. 30, 1997

The Student Conflict Resolution Service, or SCORES, is being launched this fall in an effort to help students resolve conflicts with other students.

SCORES will use peer mediation to help students work toward resolving disputes and misunderstandings. The free service will be staffed by trained student mediators working impartially and confidentially to mediate disagreements.

“Our mission is to offer the campus community an opportunity to resolve conflicts in a way that fulfills each individual’s interests and facilitates an environment for greater mutual understanding,” said Toby Cho and Molly Dodge, student founding members of SCORES.

SCORES will help students involved in disputes engage in “problem-solving conversations with one another,” according to Tom Sebok, director of CU-Boulder’s Ombuds Office.

Mediation can loosen the “deadlocks” that often prevent resolution, Sebok said. It is a process that can promote understanding, cooperation and joint problem-solving between conflicting parties.

Examples of disputes to be handled by SCORES mediators include disagreements between roommates or friends, between or within student organizations, or conflicts between fraternities and sororities. Anticipated issues include noise complaints, class projects, loaned or damaged belongings, policy disputes, resource allocation, rent or bill payment and other issues.

According to Sebok, mediation is advantageous because it is an informal process that allows those most directly affected by the outcome “to have maximum input in arriving at a mutually satisfying solution.” Through mediation, parties have a much greater chance of healing their relationships, he said.

Since October 1995, undergraduate and graduate students along with faculty and staff from the Office of Student Affairs, the Ombuds Office, CU police, Housing, Peace and Conflict Studies, the City of Boulder Mediation Service and members of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Civil Conduct have collaborated to put the program into action.

It was developed to address a perceived need among students to find ways of settling disputes effectively.

Program organizers hope that students will better understand their options in seeking resolution of conflict. The program also will serve as another outlet for student volunteers. The skills attained by trained mediators, and by the parties themselves, could be applied to negotiation and other conflict-management processes in the workplace or in personal or academic situations.

Eventually SCORES will serve as a referral source to other offices and programs on campus, Sebok said.

The program initially will seek previously trained mediators to volunteer who will receive brief training to review their skills and to familiarize the team with a single mediation process.

People interested in becoming SCORES volunteer mediators should call 492-4499 or contact Ron Stump at 492-4930.