Minutes for November 20, 2013

Student Government Association

Senate Agenda

20th of November 2013


i. Call to Order Meeting called to order at 8:34 pm

ii. Roll Call/Prayer

iii. Approval of Minutes Minutes approved.

iv. New Business

  1. Conversation about Restorative Justice at EMU. CJP course called Practice 2, looking for experiences on campus about RJ. Restorative Justice words that come to mind: victim/offender restoration; circle process; moving forward; resolution; inner peace; group discussions; holy prayer; addressing needs and harms; transformative; making things right; emotional relationships; communication; methods of restoring community; victim-satisfaction and offender accountability; reconciliation; wounded healers addressing trauma. Questions: What have you heard about restorative justice at EMU (how it is used, understandings of what it is, how it is played out)? Mixed reactions: some people who have worked more closely with ResLife, positive feedback of direction. But frustration of no connection with ResLife who point at JMU, their model, and confused about our own model. Few people know a ResLife RD focused on RJ (John Swartz). Another person: Hearing about it, not especially in depth, but words thrown around a lot. Last year had trouble with ResLife, wish it could have been handled differently, using more RJ. (They saw it more punitive than restorative). Mostly hearing that people wish that it was used more throughout campus (speaking as a member of Peace Fellowship). More even distribution of RJ practices, not picked and chosen which issues to address with RJ and with punitive. Some instances when RJ is looked at as a n option, but then not followed through with (especially during the end of a semester, easier to issue a fine than processing through the offense). Haven’t really heard about ours, in classrooms or in discussions; a lot of people who experience/interact with ResLife, might not hear about it. Receptive to the idea, but then after implementation/experimentation, then it wasn’t as well-received as they thought. Conversations with people about RJ; it’s losing its practitional meaning if it’s being thrown around, and what is the meaning of it?
  2. What really is restorative justice? Victim-offender conferencing—it’s a long process to even come to that period to talk through what happened, what each person would like to receive, and the offender asking for forgiveness. RJ in the school systems (college level, elementary, etc.) in detentions; talking with children to prevent future offenses. If a child keeps getting punished, then the mindset is detrimental to learning, outlook, and concept of justice. The process is completely voluntary, but restorative practices don’t necessarily have to be, and then varies in levels of outcomes. Voluntary models are much more positive. Mandatory process is not as effective or personal, and it’s supposed to be; making it mandatory takes the meaning out of it. RJ is a life-intention, requires patience on both parts; shouldn’t be phrased victim-offender, but bringing life into a community. Not enough concrete education about RJ; may understand the concepts but not the actual practices behind that.
  3. How would you want to handle a situation in which you were harmed? If I was harmed, I would want someone to acknowledge that I was hurt; even if it wasn’t EMU’s fault directly, I would want some sort of consolation. Someone other than me acknowledge it was wrong. I would want to know the offender’s impetuses so I could understand what was going on in their head to make them human and move on. Would want a mediator to know what to say; pre-mediating as well as during the mediation process to address the best solution.  A mediator that could understand the situation, personalities, and the best process for the situation. Referencing the WeatherVane: providing a space for them both to meet, also for the offender opportunities to make it right. Meeting with a victim and having conversations, or doing some type of service work or a class—to alleviate guilt. If harmed, not just EMU recognize I was harmed, but EMU to see the harm in the community as a whole. Community-harm.
  4. How would you want EMU to handle a situation in which you harmed someone else? I would want them to know how I felt, and what happened from my perspective. To create an understanding, why I did the things I did. Also seek to forgive yourself. Would want to be updated and kept in the loop as much as possible; I would fret endlessly if I wasn’t updating on what was going on in the process in connection to the person you harmed, as well as an institutional level (process). It’s difficult to say sorry if you don’t understand what else has been going on in the process (what words exactly to say, what to reference, etc.). The process could be held in a timely manner, conversation then isn’t brought up for another couple of weeks, and that spotty response could reap more harm than good—consistent and quick response would be beneficial. I would want recognition of community-hurt, as well as recognition of the space that led me to acting into this harm. I would want everything to be confidential; unless I was publically apologizing, EMU is so small and would not want everything to get out. I would want input of options for making things right, options laid out, etc. Flexible processing; with a mediator, but also to have some power within the situation. Also the need for closure, a movement forward.
  5. Do you think that EMU’s way of handling harms is restorative, why or why not? A CA involved everyone in a conflict and restorative, and it was positive; two girls on that hall really appreciated the process. I did not necessarily like the process; it took a really long time, didn’t get closure; wasn’t given enough information, was really drawn out, during the process couldn’t really talk about it; confusing and wasn’t really effective. I don’t think that EMU is a RJ-friendly place, even though it wants to be. There is a lot of shame and stigma built into things; shame from the community in any offense, a standard that needs to be lived into. A ranking system based on offense (or lack thereof). That will prevent any RJ from being possible on campus. It wasn’t kept confidential, and forgiveness wasn’t given from ResLife itself, even after he went through the process that was asked of him.  It’s sometimes tough if the offender becomes the victim in some situations; offender does some crime, and then the school victimizes them for what they have done—is that what we’re aiming for? Needs to have more communication. In alcohol related offenses, it’s particularly difficult because ResLife is always the victim then? Who, really, is the victim? If the victim is the same as the power that dictates the process, then that can get dicey extremely quickly. A lot of needs that are not addressed. Who is the victim and who is the offender during an alcohol violation? What is the difference between keeping it in the school, school-handled, and when should it be broadened to the outward community? After paraphanelia is found, and police are called—police cannot enter the room by themselves, but because ResLife is allowed to enter, they can as well. But that will feel like a violation of space (but it’s the institution’s space?). Often, EMU in the RJ process is very passive aggressive—will ignore the issue, or pass it along to someone else, which only amplifies it. RJ on micro-levels; CA should keep it on the hall, only after their RJ process doesn’t work to bring in the RD; RD should work with it until that doesn’t work and bring in ResLife, etc. Concerning alcohol-based violations, when someone breaks the CLC it’s a community victim. This is where things get grey; RJ is difficult to implement when not everyone’s in agreement to the groundworks, and the CLC means different things to different people and it’s hard to navigate those disciplinary processes because of that. Don’t know how to address it at an institutional level. Maybe there should be a common understanding, or an understanding from students that this is a very complex processs (can’t just throw out the CLC, but revising it is difficult… it’s all very confusing). Maybe individually, every process/situation needs to give its own interpretation of the CLC. Talking about fines, they are given for an offense. Gives space for atonement, is that really the best way to go? Talk about alcohol policy, but what about cheating? –The policy is if the student has two substantial violations, the student is placed on probation, then afterwards, placed on suspension, etc. There is a clause that RJ is an acceptable option/alternative for punishment.
  6. How might EMU’s vision to live out Micah 6:8 (a verse suggesting mercy look like in disciplinary measures/ be done it better? Should EMU’s process be restorative?


v. Old Business

vi. Announcements

  1. Late Night Pancakes SGA senators are the ones who serve and clean up afterwards. Monday night. Should try and get people to bring their own plates/silverware, etc., then enter a raffle for Common Grounds giftcards.
  2. SGA sponsored forum this coming Monday Forum so students can be informed—about Board of Trustees proposal. Only students will be invited for Q&A with Loren afterwards. Andrew and Christine gave a speech at the Board of Trustees meeting, can also address that. It will be a transparency initiative to disclose what is going on within SGA, architectural renderings of the science center, and other internal workings of EMU.  Spread the word! It’s at 10 on Monday! In Lehman! Calm, effective discussion!

vii. Committee Reporting

viii. Open Floor

Ken has a question about the date of the Student Recognition Chapel, where SGA Students will be recognized. STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED.

ix. Adjournment

Kate makes a motion to adjourn this meeting.

Mariah seconds the motion.

Motion is passed.