Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process requested by two or more people who need help in solving problems between themselves and another member of the Virginia Tech community. Requests from an individual for mediation should be directed to Henry Yampolsky, assistant director for education, outreach and conflict resolution.
The success rate of mediation is high when each participant is able to listen carefully to the other person and acknowledge his or her point of view. Even if the parties do not reach agreement, they frequently find mediation helpful as a way of gaining more understanding of the situation.
The process uses mediators—trained individuals who do not have a stake or role in how the problem may be solved—to help people find solutions that are best for their situation. There is no fee for those who agree to mediate their dispute through the university.
Mediators meet privately with the individuals involved and help them discuss their concerns and help them resolve their issues in ways in which the participants can agree. The mediators are available to meet with the parties individually, at either the request of the party or the decision by the mediator. Mediation can be scheduled at a time that works best for all the parties. If both participants wish to meet during work hours, they can ask their supervisor to use administrative leave. Participants also have the option to request annual leave or request that the mediation be held during off-work hours. The length of mediation depends on the parties and issues involved. Participants should block off at least three hours for the mediation. If more time is needed, it may be appropriate for an additional session to be scheduled.
Witnesses and proof are not used in mediation, and mediators do not conduct investigations. The best way to prepare is to come with a willingness to listen to the other person.
Participants remain in control of what is happening and make all of the decisions. Mediators do not make judgments, determine facts, or decide the outcome; instead, they facilitate discussion between participants. In this role, they provide a structured setting in which the participants can identify options and find solutions best suited to their situation. An agreement is not established until the terms are acceptable to all individuals or parties.
Neither the mediator nor the university enforces the agreement. Individuals are much more likely to comply voluntarily with agreements that they have created themselves. The participants may return to mediation or use other formal or informal processes, should the agreement later breakdown.
If an agreement breakdown, the participants may return to mediation or use other formal or informal processes.
Mediation is not:
- An investigation
- Disciplinary action
- A means of appealing a disciplinary action
- A way of upholding a disciplinary action
- A determination of guilt or blame
- A judgment of truth or falsehood
- A forum for punishing people