Restorative Practices

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 community members.

Restorative practices facilitate interaction 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 those harms. Restorative 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 framework 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 practices are a method of engaging with individuals and communities that use restorative principles. Restorative practices put 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 a restorative practice. This means that, instead of shaming and isolating an individual by punishing them, restorative practices allow the person who caused the harm to become part of the solution so that everyone can move forward together, in community.

How do Restorative Practices work in residence?

Restorative practices use the following principles to engage individuals and the community and facilitate interaction:

  • Involving those with a legitimate stake in the situation, which may include harmed parties, responsible parties, and community members
  • Respect for all parties
  • Voluntary involvement for all parties
  • Providing all parties a chance to tell their story (storytelling/truth-telling)
  • Participatory decision making
  • Valuing the relationships between individuals
  • Providing an opportunity for dialogue, which can be direct or indirect, between responsible parties and harmed parties as desired by all parties (voluntary involvement)
  • Focus on the harms (and consequent needs) of harmed parties first of all, but also the needs of the community and those who are causing or who caused harm.
  • Aims for mutually agreed upon outcomes that put things right to the extent possible and rebuilding trust lost as a result of the harm
  • Promotes responsibility, reparation, and healing for all parties

Three EXAMPLES 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 in the moment

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

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Restorative Meeting

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

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

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 a helpful skill that you can use throughout your life
  4. Move on from harm and move forward 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 behaviour through Restorative practices, it is 100% voluntary. Other processes are available for addressing behaviour when parties are not interested in a restorative practice.

Why USE RESTORATIVE PRACTICES in residence?

Restorative practices:

  • actively build community
  • teach conflict resolution skills to everyone involved
  • build problem-solving capacity
  • provide closure and a way forward
  • prevent repeat behaviour from the responsible parties

Why do Restorative PRACTICES 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 within your community. There is no need to wait for Residence Life staff to get involved if you’re able to do it together.