Student Legal Services offers free mediation to all Texas A&M students as an option to help resolve conflicts and disagreements. Mediation is a problem solving process facilitated by a neutral third party who promotes understanding and settlement in a safe and confidential environment. Student issues that benefit from mediation range from civil and commercial disputes to family and interpersonal disagreements.
Some common disputes resolved by Mediation include:
Benefits of Mediation:
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Who are the mediators?
- What does a mediator do?
- How do I request mediation?
- How does mediation work?
- How long does mediation take?
- Is mediation confidential?
- Why should I give mediation a try?
Who are the mediators?
Mediators are staff volunteers who have completed the State of Texas required forty hours of classroom education in the techniques of dispute resolution. They are qualified to serve and be appointed as a mediator by the courts of the State of Texas. The mediator assigned to help students work through a dispute must be acceptable to all parties to ensure neutrality.
- Facilitates communication in the mediation process
- Helps the parties understand each other's views
- Promotes venting or emotional expression in a safe environment
- Deals with differences in perceptions and interests between parties
- Shifts the focus from the past to the future
- Encourages the parties to suggest creative and realistic settlements
Students can phone (979-862-4502) to discuss with a staff member the possibility of mediation. During this initial meeting students will explain the conflict and identify the parties involved. Using the information provided by the student, the staff member will decide if mediation is appropriate.
If mediation is appropriate, the staff member will collect the necessary information and assign a mediator. The student is responsible for notifying all parties involved in the conflict of the pending mediation and scheduling a time for a joint session. If a student is uncomfortable with this responsibility, the assigned mediator may contact the parties and schedule the session date and time. Participation in the conflict mediation process is voluntary. A person cannot be forced to agree to mediation or attend any sessions.
If the conflict presented by the student during the intake appointment is not appropriate for mediation, the staff member may refer the student to other campus services or community resources for assistance.
Mediation may be composed of three parts: joint session, private caucus and agreement or settlement.
Joint Session (60-90minutes). During the joint session of the mediation, all parties discuss the issues and what they hope to gain from mediation. The interest and needs of each participant are discussed and options for meeting those needs and interests are explored. Ideally, the entire mediation takes place in the joint session. However, the mediator or parties may request a private caucus to gain or share additional information.
Private Caucus (20-30minutes). During private caucus, parties meet privately with the mediator to disclose any information not shared in the joint session. It is during this portion of the mediation that the mediator usually learns information that the parties are reluctant to share with each other that is often the source of the disagreement. Information revealed in private is confidential and will not be shared, unless the mediator is given permission. After each party has met in private caucus, the mediator my reconvene joint session and move forward with the mediation.
Agreement or Settlement. When the possibility for agreement exists, the parties generate agreement options. If all parties agree on the proposed options, then it is documented on a Memorandum of Understanding Form which is signed by all parties involved. If the parties do not agree, discussion continues until all alternatives are explored.
There are some cases that will not be resolved through mediation. If agreement is not reached, the mediation session can be terminated by the mediator or any of the parties involved.
Mediation ideally takes place during one or more 60-90 minute join session(s). However, it may take longer depending on the number of participants and their individual needs. Students are able to schedule additional joint session, private caucus, or follow-up meetings depending on the availability of their mediator.
One of the advantages of mediation is the degree of confidentiality. Confidential information disclosed to a mediator by the parties or witnesses during the course of the mediation will not be divulged, without the student's permission. All records, reports or other documents received by a mediator during mediation are also confidential.
Mediation is a way to resolve personal disputes in a timely manner without the expenses required in litigation. The focus of mediation is to seek a mutually acceptable agreement between parties. Mediation creates and explores many options for resolution and helps preserve business or personal relationships.
Mediation opens communication and provides structure for discussion in which the parties are active participants. The parties tend to take "ownership" of the agreements reached, which result in greater compliance.