U-C IMC site: http://www.ucimc.org/ This document: http://www.ucimc.org/info/display/mediation

Mediation Policy U-C IMC Conflict Resolution Policy

Adopted by Steering Group 8-4-02

WHO CAN HELP ME THROUGH A CONFLICT I'M HAVING INSIDE THE IMC?

Since all IMC working and steering meetings are open to the public, any willing IMC participant or community ally can act as a Mediator or Advocate. A "Mediator" is someone who meets with persons-in-conflict with the goal of turning complaints and concerns into proposals and ultimately CHANGES in the IMC.

An Advocate is someone who will assist you in having your concerns fairly and properly addressed and considered at an IMC meeting. An Advocate will ensure that your concerns are added to a meeting agenda and given the proper amount of time for discussion and deliberation. An Advocate will attend the meeting with you to provide support and guidance in airing your concerns, voicing your proposals and finding consensus in solutions.

In the event of an extremely difficult conflict an Advocate may attend a meeting on your behalf, as your proxy. You may empower that Advocate to act on your behalf in raising concerns and reaching a consensus solution. Because an Advocate cannot represent you and your concerns as well as you can, it is strongly advised that an Advocate be your proxy only when attending a meeting yourself will cause signficant difficulty and distress to yourself and/or others.

The IMC has a number of dedicated MEDIATION and Advocate volunteers who can be of assistance to you in times of conflict. If you want the assistance of one of our volunteers, you can contact one specifically by phone or e-mail. Feel free, also, to e-mail them ALL at the address <mediation@ucimc.org.>

WHAT WILL A MEDIATION VOLUNTEER DO FOR ME?

Once you've made contact with an IMC Mediator, that Mediator will probably ask you to get together in person to talk about the conflict. IMC MediatorS have made a committment to asking questions rather than giving advice or quoting policy. Mediators generally view conflict as a way to help the IMC learn and grow. Mediators view persons-in-conflict as consultants to the IMC, that is, as allies with a valuable perspective on how the IMC impacts the community-at-large. As a consultant, then, you'll be asked to describe a few things: how whatever conflict you're observing started, what you think the problem is, what changes you envision in the IMC--or about a particular working group--in order to address the conflict, what you think this conflict says about the current state of the IMC and the local activist community at large, etc.

It might be the case that one or more potential Mediators will "RECUSE" themselves from the role of Mediator. This just means that they don't want to get involved as a Mediator because they see themselves as already involved, either as an actor or as a person-too-close-to-the-problem. Please don't take it personally if a Mediator feels the need to recuse herself. MediatorS are acting in what they see as YOUR best interest when they do so.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I MEET WITH A MEDIATOR?

Usually, the goal is to get your conflict onto the agenda at the pertaining meeting, either as an item for discussion or as a proposal. There are LOTS of completely valid reasons why a person with a conflict might not be able to bring a conflict to the meeting without assistance. It's the nature of CONFLICT to be emotional, painful, confusing, intimidating, exasperating. That's why we propose the idea of the Advocate. As mentioned above, the Advocate "sits in" at meetings with and on behalf of persons-in-conflict, facilitating the expression of the person (or group of people) with the conflict, and hoping to facilitate a CONSENSUS which might resolve the conflict.

How you and your Mediator and/or Advocate interact as a team to get your concerns voiced is entirely up to you. In the interest of avoiding conflicts of interest, it is recommended that Advocates not be active members of the working group where the conflict exists. Advocates should be familiar with the IMC structure and operations.

Your Mediator might volunteer to serve as a guest facilitator for the agenda item which pertains to your conflict. This can be useful when all in attendance at a particular meeting seem to be people-too-close-to-the-problem. It's best to get a consensus on a guest facilitator one meeting in advance, although it can sometimes be done at the meeting in question.

Your agenda item might be assigned to a caucus. A caucus is similar to a sub-committee: A portion of the working group who have special experience or interest in the conflict-at-hand volunteer to meet seperately in order to brainstorm, problem-solve, and draft proposals. These proposals get presented to the larger decision-making group for consideration and--hopefully, eventually --consensus.

How can I volunteer to become an IMCMediator? How can I help design even better conflict resolution systems at the Urbana IMC?

With any questions, suggestions, or to volunteer, contact <mediation@ucimc.org>.

-- RovinNZ - 25 Sep 2002
Topic revision: r1 - 26 Sep 2002, RovinNZ
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