Core Values and Code of Conduct
Self-determination in decision-making
- Decision-making resides with the participants, not the mediator.
- Decisions and agreements made by participants must be free of coercion or threat.
- As much as practicable, the mediator works to assure that participants have all necessary information and access to resources that enable fully informed decision- making.
- If a participant requests the presence of an advisor to support him/her in the mediation session, the mediator will make available the same option to the other participant.
- A mediator shall postpone a session if there is any evidence that either participant is unable to negotiate effectively on his/her own behalf because of extenuating circumstances that may interfere with his/her ability to reason and problem solve.
- Both parties must voluntarily agree to participate.
- Mediators must be alert to and explore any clues that signal a party's reluctance to engage in or to continue mediation.
- Either party can decide at any time s/he does not with to continue the mediation session.
- The purpose of confidentiality is to make it possible for participants to communicate freely and to brainstorm so that the likelihood of resolution is improved and to reduce concern that information will be used against them later.
- A mediator will hold information obtained during the mediation session in confidence. Mediators will not be asked to file reports about what is said in mediation; mediator notes taken in session will be destroyed at the end of the session.
- The only exceptions to confidentiality are if the mediators learns, as follows:
- that a participant believes s/he has been subjected to
- sexual harassment; or
- discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, and sexual orientation;
- if a participant expresses intent to commit physical harm.
Because the University assumes an on-going responsibility to investigate the first category of allegations, any disclosures by participants of either subcategory must be reported to the Division of Diversity Access & Equity by the mediator. Threats of physical harm will be reported to the Campus Police. The mediator will review these exceptions during the opening orientation and participants will be asked to signify their understanding of the information when they sign the agreement to mediate.
- If a mediator is also required to report information such as child or dependent abuse because of his/her professional credentials and attendant legal obligations, those exceptions will also be discussed during the opening orientation and the additional categories will be written into the agreement to mediate before participants sign it.
- If a CMS mediator is asked by a University official to divulge the contents of a mediation session, s/he shall refuse and immediately notify the program director and/or the Division of Diversity, Access & Equity.
- Participants are also asked to keep in confidence the conversation they have in mediation about how events have affected them, what they wished had happened, what their hopes are for the future and ideas about how to address the problem.
- Although participants are asked to hold in confidence the contents of the mediation session, they may mutually agree about whether to share with others the outcome or agreements reached in mediation.
- Participants are required to agree that they will not ask the mediator to testify on behalf of either of them in a subsequent proceeding if they are unable to reach an agreement and choose to initiate any formal proceeding, e.g. grievance, other administrative procedure, or law suit.
Role of the mediator
- Mediators convene the mediation meeting.
- Mediators assist the parties in communicating clearly with one another and guide participants through a series of steps that explore their perceptions of what happened, the significance of events, options for addressing the problem, option selection for resolving the problem, and strengthening the future working relationship.
- Mediators are not decision-makers; they do not decide who is right or wrong or tell participants what they should do.
- If the mediator has information or knows of information that may affect the mediation, s/he may share that, but must be clear about not giving advice to the parties or indicating how s/he believes another university body might apply the information to the situation of the participants. Mediators may direct parties to other appropriate resources and shall adapt the process to make such outside consultation possible.
- A mediator shall conduct a mediation session in an even-handed manner, that does not favor one participant over another; participants shall be encouraged to notify the mediator if they feel the mediator is not being impartial.
- A mediator does not have a stake or interest in decisions or agreements made by the parties.
- A mediator shall withdraw from the process is s/he is unable to maintain balance because of his/her own biases.
- A mediator will also withdraw from the process if a participant expresses the belief that the mediator is biased and that belief is not allayed after reasonable exploration.
Neutrality and conflicts of interest
- A mediator shall disclose in advance and at the beginning of a session, prior relationships with either participant to avoid the expectation or appearance that one participant has the capacity to influence the mediator. The nature of prior relationships shall also be disclosed so that the other participant has the opportunity to evaluate whether s/he is confident in the mediator's ability to remain neutral.
Integrity of the process
- Mediators are committed to assisting all participants.
- Mediators shall encourage mutual respect between participants and may either implement ground rules or invite participants to develop their own ground rules that promote constructive communication.
- If a mediator discovers that a participant is willfully withholding significant information or does not intend to engage in genuine attempts to problem solve, the mediator shall encourage the participant to alter the conduct in question. If that participant refuses to alter the conduct in question, the mediator shall discontinue the mediation and shall do so in a manner that does not violate the obligation of confidentiality to either party.
Improvement of practice
- Mediators shall participate in evaluation of their own practice through a combination of self-evaluation, peer feedback and participant feedback.
- Mediators shall commit to improving their practice through continuing mediator education and co-mediation.