Resolving Campus Conflict

Scheinman Institute teaches students to mediate Cornell cases
Rocco Szanza co-teaches mediation course
Wednesday, June 13, 2018


A new class preparing students to mediate disputes around the university has concluded its inaugural academic year.

“Campus Mediation Practicum: Theory and Practice” took place during the fall and spring semesters and was co-taught by Rocco Scanza and Katrina Nobles of the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution.

Students mediated real cases referred from the Cornell Judicial Administrator’s Office regarding allegations against Cornell’s Code of Conduct.

For the final class of the semester, students described the nature of typical cases to members of the Judicial Administrator’s Office, and made recommendations for how to improve handling cases in the future.

Students who mediated cases ranged from ILR undergraduates to Cornell Law School students interested in gaining conflict resolution skills.

“Mediating provides exciting opportunities to engage with various parties on campus to mutually craft creative resolutions,” Kevin Tal ’18 said. “It's an exercise of quick and critical thinking that can lead to a visible impact.”

Students also viewed the Judicial Administrator Office differently after collaborating with its staff for class.

Noah Chovanec ’18 said, “I learned that the Office of the Judicial Administration is much more open toward principles of restorative justice than I had ever thought they would be.”

“Throughout all of my mediations, the judicial representative clearly wanted to seek the outcomes that would help the accused student the most, not simply to punish offenders.”

Students said their abilities to handle mediations improved through the class.

“I learned how much experience counts when acting as a mediator. Early on, I found it difficult to help steer the conversation between the two parties,” Chovanec said. “But, with every mediation I conducted, it became more natural and effective.”