Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice and the Residence Community Standards

When you choose to live in residence, you choose to join a community. This means taking responsibility for your behaviour, participating in meaningful conflict resolution and protecting the rights of other community members.

Restorative Justice is a process where involved parties identify the impact of harmful behaviour and come to an agreement that restores the community and rebuilds trust.

  • Those who are harmed learn to voice their needs and participate in the resolution
  • Those who disrupted the community learn about the impact of their behaviour and work to repair the harm done

The Residence Community Standards Policy empowers residents to resolve issues by identifying the harm caused by a behaviour and creatively finding ways to repair it. The process and practices are designed to build community and strengthen ties between students living in residence, as both the students who experience and cause the harm have a say in the outcome. The processes also provide a mechanism for students to truly consider their behaviour, its consequences and better options for the future.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is a different way of holding people accountable for their behaviour. Instead of focusing on which rule was broken and punishing bad behaviour, this process welcomes the perspectives and experiences of everyone involved. The goal is to identify the harm done and take action to make it right.

Restorative Justice puts the power in the hands of those involved: the harmed parties, responsible parties and affected community members. There is no university authority imposing sanctions in Restorative Justice processes. This means that, instead of shaming and isolating an individual by punishing them, Restorative Justice allows the person who caused the harm to become part of the solution.

How does Restorative Justice work in residence?

For Restorative Justice to be used to address an issue, certain conditions have to be met:

  1. The identity of the resident who caused the harm (responsible party) must be known
  2. That resident must be willing to participate in a Restorative Justice process
  3. The harmed parties must be willing to participate
  4. The harm can be identified
  5. The nature of the incident must be appropriate to the Restorative Justice process

Restorative practices use the principles of Restorative Justice to engage individuals and the community and facilitate interaction.

Three types of restorative practices in residence

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Community Resolution

A conversation between a Residence Life staff member and a student (or group of students) where harms are identified and the problem is solved on the spot.

Involves a residence staff member and those responsible. Often there is no identifiable harmed party.

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Restorative Meeting

A facilitated interaction with the goal of identifying and agreeing together on what has to be done to repair harm to the community and rebuild trust.

Involves a harmed person, a responsible person and a facilitator.

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Restorative Conference

A facilitated interaction with the goal of identifying and agreeing together on what has to be done to repair harm to the community and rebuild trust.

Involves those harmed, those responsible, community members and any support people or facilitators.

Why would I want to participate in Restorative Justice?

  1. Empowerment: Have a say in the process and outcome
  2. Collaborate with others and build a community that you want to live in
  3. Learn an amazing skill that you can use throughout your life
  4. Move on from harm in your residence community
    1. If you were harmed, your needs are front and centre
    2. If you caused harm, you have the opportunity to make things right

What if I don’t want to participate?

While Residence Services prefers to address harmful conduct through the Restorative Justice process, it is 100% voluntary. Other processes are available for addressing behaviour when parties are not interested in Restorative Justice.

Why practice Restorative Justice in residence?

Restorative Justice actively builds community, teaches conflict resolution skills to everyone involved and builds problem-solving capacity. In addition, those who go through Restorative Justice (as opposed to a punishment-based process) are less likely to repeat the harmful behaviour.

Why does Restorative Justice work?

The restorative approach holds people accountable to those they have harmed and requires that they take action to make repairs and rebuild trust. So what does a restorative community member look like?

  • They understand that their words and actions affect those around them
  • They recognize when they have caused harm (even if it has to be brought to their attention!)
  • They apologize when they have wronged someone
  • They work with the community to make it right
  • If they can’t make it right, they work to rebuild trust
  • They learn from their mistakes and work to change their behaviour in the future

Can I use restorative principles and practices on my own?

You are encouraged to address conflicts and resolve resulting issues on your own. There is no need to wait for Residence Life staff to get involved if you’re able to do it together.