Restorative justice focuses on involving the affected parties and seeks to repair harm that was done. This approach is fundamental to our work in upholding community norms. This does not mean that students who violate policy and cause harm do not face consequences. It means those consequences are grounded as much as possible in determining what harm occurred and what can be done to repair it.
The goals of restorative justice are to identify:
- What happened
- What harm was caused
- Who was harmed
- How can the harm be repaired
In the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities, we use restorative justice in a number of ways.
- We train decision-makers and investigators in our process about asking restorative questions.
- We have increased options for those who want to report harm to participate in our process as complainants.
- Our sanctions focus on restoring harm to individuals involved, the respondent, and the community as a whole.
- We have begun to implement circles of support and accountability for those who return from suspension.
- We offer all respondents the opportunity to create an outcome agreement in which they accept responsibility for the alleged violations and work with us to develop appropriate outcomes.
Our learning environment includes respondents, complainants, and the entire university community. For that reason, all of our work must balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the community. Restorative principles do not mean outright forgiveness. They mean real accountability and genuine efforts to repair harm.