Mediation Service to Open Conflict Workshops to Students, Faculty

Spring Training Sessions Will Focus on Campus Leaders

The Harvard Mediation Service, a counseling organization that focuses on race relations, will be offering training workshops to interested students and faculty this spring, members said yesterday.

The two-hour conflict resolution workshops will present a condensed version of the intensive training mediators undergo to become part of the service.

The workshops will focus on "listening skills and how to have discussions with others you don't see eye-to-eye with," according to Assistant Dean of Students Sarah E. Flatley, who coordinates the Mediation Service.

The Mediation Service was created last spring by the office of Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III in order to promote better understanding between students, faculty and organizations on campus.

Since its creation, mediators say, the service has been used only occasionally by students seeking help solving conflicts.

Of the mediations they have handled over the past year, most of the parties have raised "personal type issues," Flatley said.

"It hasn't been a very high percentage [of people] at this point," Flatley said. "We hope that the training sessions will help."

The first workshops may be aimed primarily at leaders of student organizations and house masters, said Robert J. Fuller '97, one of the four members of the service's training committee.

These workshops not only will emphasize conflict resolution skills, but also will encourage campus leaders to make better use of resources such as the Mediation Service.

Fuller said the point of the training workshops is not just to get the service "off its feet", but also to promote better race relations.

"Publicity would be nice," Fuller said. "But it's not the main goal. We've wanted to do this since the beginning."

Service counselors, many of whom have never had the opportunity to handle a mediation, said the mediation skills they learned in training would be valuable for everyone.

"I haven't participated yet in a formal mediation. But in the informal sense, I've been involved in many," Daniel J. Kolodner '97 said. "My skills as a mediator have helped me...in my everyday life."