5.7 Conflict and Dispute Resolution

Conflict can be draining and time-consuming. It may distract students from their educational goals by disrupting their study, sleep, or peace of mind. On-going disputes can increase stress that could result in a regrettable incident, poor academic performance, or withdrawal from the College. Managed conflict can be a catalyst for learning and change.

Macalester College believes that given the opportunity, students are the most capable of resolving their own disputes. Engaging in effective conflict resolution provides opportunities to gain valuable skills. When conflicts or disputes cannot be resolved by the parties involved, the College can assist in exploring informal and formal resolution processes. If a student has questions about a dispute or conflict, they may contact the Office of Student Affairs 651-696-6220 for more information.

Support Offered

Students who wish to discuss informal or formal methods of conflict or dispute resolution can also contact:

  • Residence Life Staff (RAs, Hall Directors, Associate Director)
  • Student Organization Advisors
  • Office of Student Affairs

The Dean of Students generally serves as the coordinator of the dispute resolution process outside of the Conduct Board. Below are listed the conflict or dispute resolution options. More information can be provided by the Dean of Students (or their designee).

Desired Outcomes

By using conflict resolution methods, the hope is that students will:

  • feel respected and heard
  • better understand the complexity of conflict
  • affirm the benefits of proactive conflict management
  • understand the negative consequences when conflict is avoided or suppressed
  • appreciate all issues involved in the dispute
  • state their needs and concerns clearly
  • identify outcomes that will best meet their needs
  • learn lifelong skills for managing conflict

Informal Resolution Options:

  • Conflict Coaching. One-on-one discussions between a member of the campus community and a student in conflict with another, aimed at identifying strategies to resolve the conflict.
  • Facilitated dialogue. A constructive conversation between two or more students, guided by a member of the Macalester community to increase the potential that students will arrive at a mutually satisfying outcome.
  • Mediation. A voluntary process guided by a person trained in mediation (usually a member of the Macalester community), where students clearly identify their interests, needs, and resolution options. The mediator may provide suggestions or recommendations. A written agreement will result, and the mediator will follow up with all parties to make sure it is being fulfilled. Resolutions derived through mediation are considered official agreements endorsed by the College
  • Restorative Justice Circle (RJC). A discussion process where a student meets with other students or staff in order to identify actions to repair harm done.
  • Educational Workshops. Held to increase studentsÂ’ ability to manage conflict in a constructive and proactive manner. The focus is on the enhancement of positive coping and healthy relationship skills.

Formal Resolution Options:

  • Conduct Hearing Board. Provides a formal method of adjudicating disputes and conflict or behavior that is in violation of College policies. A pool of students, faculty, and staff are appointed to hear cases brought before the CHB and to determine findings and when appropriate, recommend sanctions. Both parties meet with the Dean or Chair of the Conduct Hearing Board before the hearing to discuss the procedures involved. More detailed information about the Conduct Hearing Board can be found in the Student Handbook.
  • Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. Situations where there is a possibility of harassment or sexual assault are referred to the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. This group of faculty and staff investigate and address all violations of harassment and assault. Both parties meet with a member of the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team to discuss the procedures involved. More detailed information about the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team can be found on the College website.

What situations are suitable for informal conflict resolution?

  • a student-to-student conflict or dispute arising from an incident that may violate policies in the Student Handbook.
  • a conflict that may not yet have progressed into a dispute, where there has not been a policy violation, and the students wish to address it before it becomes a bigger problem.
  • educational workshops that address the skill-building needs of their students and staff.

What situations are likely more suitable for formal conflict resolution?

Every situation is unique; generally speaking, the following concerns would likely involve more formal resolution:

  • incidents involving serious physical or emotional injury
  • significant, long-term hostility between parties