The Alternative Resolution Process (ARP) provides students and student groups with a pathway to resolving interpersonal conflict and empowers all parties to participate fully in the accountability process. When students agree to participate in an ARP, they engage in dialogue about the harm that has been caused, the impact of that harm, and what needs to be done to repair the harm. The ARP is designed using a restorative philosophy which supports accountability that is formulated WITH involved parties. In other words, the ARP enables the person who was harmed in the situation to participate in deciding what should happen to repair the harm that was caused to them. This is unique to an ARP as compared to the traditional disciplinary process.
The Office of Student Conduct & Civility Education uses the ARP for various circumstances involving individuals and even student groups and organizations. Although most incidents where ARP could be utilized will be reported to OSCCE as possible policy violations, individuals or groups seeking support in resolving conflict can request an ARP by contacting us at studentconduct AT_TOWSON.
|Philosophy/Approach||Educational and Punitive: The University is investigating if policy(s) were violation, evaluating its relationship with the accused student, and imposing Accountability Actions, when appropriate||Restorative: the involved parties agree that harm has been caused, are evaluating their continued relationship with one another, and deciding what actions must happen to repair the harm|
|Requirements||None/all students are afforded Due Process as described in the Code of Student Conduct||Parties must agree to participate, Harming Party must admit they caused harm and agree to abide by any requirements that come out of the ARP|
|Accountability Actions||Most likely include both an educational and punitive component determined by the University to hold the student accountable for their actions and help them consider their impact on others.||Can include any actions agreed upon by parties during the Restorative Circle. It is important to note that the University does not mandate certain outcomes. Instead, parties determine any actions that the Harming Party must complete.|
|Communication About Outcomes||Student records are kept private. Only the Student is given their outcome.||Any party who participates in an ARP will know the outcome and the actions the Harming Party is asked to take.|
One reason students who have experienced harm choose to participate in an ARP is so that they can continue to add their voice to the outcome and accountability of the person who caused them harm. Other students may want to participate so that they can tell the person who harmed them how the harm had an impact. Still others want to hear from the Harming Party about what they were thinking when they caused harm.
Regardless of your motivation, most students enter the process because they want some sense of closure to their incident. They may not walk away having a completely restored relationship with the other party, but the ARP gives them an opportunity to address the situation in way that feels more personally meaningful than the student conduct process can provide.
Given that a requirement to participate in an ARP is admission that you caused harm to another person in some way, one of the benefits to participation is having the opportunity to explain your thought process and apologize for your actions. Though a direct apology is not required, participants are able to accept the impact of their actions and seek to make things right. These responses can act as a form of apology and self-accountability.
Other students participate to avoid facing the disciplinary process. While this is a possible benefit of participation, we encourage students to find other, less altruistic motivations as accountability from peers is often more difficult to face than from an administrator.
Situations involving interpersonal conflict or harm caused to others can be resolved through an ARP. Some examples of cases where an ARP may be used might be: roommate conflicts, social media conflicts, possible harassment or cyberbullying, vandalism, just to name a few. Other types of incidents can be considered for ARP by the Director of OSCCE.
The ARP can be used as an alternative to, alongside, or at the conclusion of the traditional student conduct process. The ARP can also be used for incidents in which no policy violation has taken place.
Yes. Frequently, interpersonal conflicts escalate because both parties in the situation are causing harm to one another. In that circumstance, both parties would be able to identify the harm that has been caused to them and the harm they have caused the other party.
The ARP consists of a few critical steps:
There are four guiding questions that are used during a Restorative Circle:
During a Pre-Work Meeting, the incident in question is discussed. You will be able to share your perspective of the incident and answer the four main questions. The purpose of the meeting is to both prepare you and prepare the facilitator for what you plan to share during the Restorative Circle. The facilitator may challenge you to consider various responses you may hear from other participants so that you can feel prepared. While what any participant says in the Circle is not scripted, the goal is to go in having a good idea what you will share and hear from others.
You will also review the format of the Restorative Circle including who will likely speak in what order and why. You can discuss your preferences, concerns, and boundaries with your facilitator at this time.
The Restorative Circle will be organized at a time when all primary participants can be present. Most often, Restorative Circles will be held in person in an on-campus location. In this format, chairs are placed in a circle and all participants are assigned a seat based upon their role in the situation. Typically, there will be 2 facilitators for each Circle who will begin the circle with introductions and ground rule setting. Participants will then be asked to respond to the four primary questions in a certain order, and be given the chance to respond to what others in the circle have shared. A talking piece, or handheld item, will be passed around the circle to signify who has the floor to speak.
It is possible for Restorative Circles to be held virtually. When this format occurs, the circle will be held over a virtual format including the same participants who would have been invited to attend in person. Instead of passing a talking piece, facilitators will identify who should be speaking based upon each member’s involvement in the incident.
Details about your specific Restorative Circle will be discussed at your Pre-Work Meeting.
The ARP is entirely voluntary. No participant is required to be there and can change their mind about participation at any time. If you make a choice to change your participation, please let your facilitator know so that we can determine how or if we can move forward to complete the ARP without your participation. When a key participant (i.e. either the Harmed Party or Harming Party) chooses not to participate, the ARP may not continue.
When an incident which involves a possible violation of the Code of Student Conduct and a key participant opts out of participating, the case may be referred back to the traditional disciplinary process for resolution.
It is possible that other types of conflict resolution options could be offered. Speak to a staff member in OSCCE to discuss options.