Many people who access our services learn that they have the capability to resolve a conflict or dispute and that they can develop a better set of skills for interacting with other people in the future.
Virginia Tech recognizes that conflict between two or more members of any community is inevitable. While there are a variety of formal procedures available to address conflicts or disagreements there are many positive benefits to offering people the opportunity to address concerns in an informal setting where they maintain control of the decisions as to how a dispute or disagreement can be resolved in a way that meets their needs and interests as well as the needs and interests of the other person.
Conflict is not the exception, it is the norm; it is familiar to everyone. Conflicts have meaning and purpose. When disputants understand this meaning, they have an opportunity to understand their own goals better and find nondestructive means of achieving them.
Perhaps the easiest way for a campus community to assist in the resolution of conflict is to advocate for its early and peaceful expression, not waiting until it has escalated and can no longer be avoided before taking action.
The campus community can demonstrate its willingness to share responsibility for conflict resolution by making available to persons in conflict, a team of competent and trained mediators who volunteer to work with other members of the Virginia Tech community. However, the mediators must always place the responsibility on the disputants for the actual expression and resolution of the conflict. By establishing a new program, like a mediation services center on campus, the community is maintaining a vital mechanism for the direct expression and reduction of conflicts.
We can model advantages of cooperation and mutual responsibility-taking, if we keep participation strictly voluntary and work toward jointly constructed agreements that address the needs of both parties.
The mediation process can be used to model respect for diversity and may help provide a space where disputants can learn to understand, respect, and accept differences.
If a conflict is handled well it can:
For more information about the Conflict Resolution Program, contact Dale Robinson at 540-231-1824.