On January 18-19th, 2012 Student Affairs partnered with the School of Peace Studies and the Joan B Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice to host a Restorative Justice (RJ) training. The training was co-led by Jack Hamlin, the lead trainer with the San Diego Restorative Justice Mediation Program (RJMP) and Justine Darling, Restorative Justice Coordinator at USD. The training, attended by Student Affairs staff and Graduate Assistants, covered both the principles and practices of restorative justice, as well as provided an opportunity to think about and practice ways of implementing Restorative Justice into peoples’ work. As this was a new concept for most people in the room, the training began with an introduction to Restorative Justice.
Jack Hamlin defines Restorative Justice “as a non-institutional, community based process focused to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in the specific harm and to collectively identify and address harms, and obligations, in order to begin healing and put things as right as possible.” Restorative Justice is not a new or Anglo-European development. In fact, it has been used in Indigenous cultures for thousands of years. Once an offense has been committed, this process creates a space whereby an offender can take responsibility for his/her actions, the victim can begin the healing process, and collectively these will work to repair a relationship and thus help build a greater sense of community. Depending on the scale of the offense and size of the impacted party, there are several RJ approaches that can be applied: RJ conferencing, Peace Circles, Facilitated Dialogue, etc. Conferencing is an opportunity for students who are referred to the Conduct office to meet face to face with the impacted individual(s). Peace Circles provide a safe space for students of varying different values, experiences and backgrounds to discuss often times larger scale issues.
Although new to the University of San Diego, Restorative Justice has already been embraced by campuses across the country. Justine Darling, with the support from Student Affairs, the Institute of Peace and Justice, and the school of Peace Studies, has led the efforts in a yearlong Restorative Justice pilot program at USD. This program is a parallel process to the efforts of student conduct at USD. The first semester focused on the development and implementation of the program on a smaller scale, and outreach to other areas. This next semester will center on making the program sustainable and including community members in the process.This program has been successful in the past months. Since the initial training, Jack and Justine have led another Restorative Justice training for Graduate Students in the Counseling, Marriage & Family Therapy and Peace Studies programs, as well as students from the School of Law. In addition, University Ministry, Residential Life and Greek Life leaders have undergone training to view conflict through a Restorative Justice lens. The United Front Multicultural Center student retreat on February 11, 2012 will center on Restorative Justice. The values of Restorative Justice, Restoration and Reparation go hand in hand with USD’s core values. According to Justine, “this process creates closure and positive connections for all participants on campuses, which develops a sense of accomplishment and confidence.”