MSU Denver

Reframing how we approach conflict on campus.

The Restorative Justice Coalition is dedicated to exploring restorative practices as a response to conflict and harm that occurs at MSU Denver. The Dean of Students Office is working alongside staff, students, faculty, and our MSU Denver community to share their knowledge and experiences to collectively envision restorative justice at MSU Denver. Allowing a more holistic approach for our campus community needs with conflict resolution and accountability.

Like many other colleges and universities, MSU Denver has a Student Code of Conduct and specific processes to address violations of community standards. Conduct processes have historically been centered in dominant notions of accountability, mirroring the criminal justice system in process and language. The MSU Denver Dean of Students Office recognizes that the current approach to student conduct can lead to inequity like that of the criminal justice system and can also be insufficient in addressing the needs and harms that have resulted from wrongdoing.

Restorative practices offer a different lens in addressing harm and accountability. To restorative principles of relationship and interconnectedness, the coalition will help address the systems that have contributed to what happened for all parties. It is an opportunity to be more truly community-focused and conflict-positive, while meeting the needs of our students, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and others whose voices have been traditionally marginalized.

The Coalition is working to build a restorative and community-centered culture on campus to prevent, address, and resolve harm.

More Details about the Coalition

The coalition meetings are facilitated in a restorative format, following circle practices, and include a broad representation of students, faculty, and staff with opportunities for members to facilitate discussions.

The coalition uses consensus decision-making to help us collaborate and make decisions. Looking through the lens of social justice and anti-racism, the coalition explores how we can build community through conflict at MSU Denver.

Past meeting topics have included:

  • What does accountability mean?
  • Unlearning a punitive mindset
  • Types of restorative justice
  • Partners in restorative justice on campus and throughout the community
  • Implementation of restorative justice at MSU Denver
  • Review & recommend changes in the Student Code of Conduct
  • Campus involvement and engagement
  • Creation of a Labor Acknowledgement
  • How to make the Land Acknowledgement actionable

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a philosophy and practice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by an incident of wrongdoing or by conflict.

Restorative justice is a collaborative process that brings together the involved parties to address what happened, the impacts and needs of all involved, and what can be done to repair the harm that has been caused.

Storytelling and recognizing the harms that the stakeholders have experienced is at the center of a restorative dialogue. This community-centered approach embraces active accountability, listening, and repair. Restorative justice is also a relational approach to conflict and wrongdoing focusing on meeting the needs of victims, offenders, and the community, rather than a punitive one where the focus is primarily on the violation and punishment.

This collaborative process invites the participants to identify and address the needs of the parties and may result in a restorative agreement in which participants mutually develop a plan with resolutions specific to the harm or incident. To ensure a successful process, restorative justice is voluntary and requires the responsible party(ies) to take accountability for the harm and to be willing to repair the harm caused.

 

History of Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice as we know it today is rooted in Indigenous practices.

Restorative justice is rooted in the philosophy of justice held by Indigenous people in North America, Africa, New Zealand, and First Nation communities around the world.

The Indigenous peacemaking process involves bringing the community, victim, and offender together to resolve conflict and maintain harmony in the community and ensure that those involved in conflict remain in the community. While commonly discussed as a reactive approach to harm, it is also used proactively to prevent conflict by creating a community-centered culture where all members recognize their value and the value of others.

Robert Yazzie, retired Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, details the philosophy and practices of Navajo peacemaking here.

“While some of these methods may share an intersection with Indigenous practices or even be derived from them in some instances, Westernized restorative justice often differs from traditional Indigenous practices on a fundamental level.” (Montana Innocence Project, 2020)

The Restorative Justice Coalition of MSU Denver is dedicated to honoring the Indigenous roots of Restorative Justice and is working to educate members and the broader campus community on the Indigenous roots of restorative justice and Indigenous peacemaking practices.

The Coalition's Norms

As a coalition, we have created these norms to uplift our members and set expectations for every meeting.

  • “I” statements when speaking about individualized experiences
  • Accepting that time and space are important to building trust and creating/processing topics and conversations
  • Creating check-in/support system with folks. Aim to have everyone covered
  • Accountability:
    • – holding yourself to your own emotions/feelings
    • – willingness to learn and engage with the group
    • – security and safety
  • Naming and acknowledging the past and process the moment
  • Taking space and making space
  • Trust and center marginalized voices without expecting labor from those voices
  • Honor and acknowledge lived and educational experiences
  • Name and acknowledge what and who we are speaking about
  • Pause (group and personal) – Oyate
  • Commitment to being proactive and having an action-focused view

As a student, why join the coalition?

In addition to connecting with others within the MSU Denver community to create change and an environment rooted in restorative justice, you will gain experience in skills with:

  • problem-solving
  • facilitation
  • conflict resolution
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • consensus decision-making

Get Involved

Staff and faculty members are welcome to join the Coalition!

Meetings are bi-weekly and you can join special topic groups on recruitment/outreach, educating the campus, and developing a mission statement for the Coalition.

To learn more about restorative justice and racial justice, check out the coalition’s resource page

Fill out our statement of interest or contact Elise Krumholz, Coordinator of Student Conflict Resolution Services at [email protected]

Have Questions?

Fill out our statement of interest or contact Elise Krumholz, Coordinator for Student Conflict Resolution Services

303-605-7018

[email protected]