Restorative Justice (RJ) is a theory of justice that emphasizes reparation of harm or impact caused by behavior that is not aligned with the community expectations (such as the DU Honor Code). Restorative justice goes beyond the act of rule-breaking and focuses on identifying and addressing the impact of one’s actions. Such process is best accomplished through a collaborative discussion process that involves appropriate stakeholders (impacted parties and community members alike). The underlying goal of RJ is to place the decision-making authority about how to best move forward from an incident or conflict into the hands of those involved and/or impacted.
Student Rights & Responsibilities at the University of Denver is implementing restorative justice principles through a specific case resolution format that aims to be educational, restorative, and empowering for all participants: Restorative Justice Conferences (RJCs). RJCs are offered to students who actively take responsibility for their actions, and are willing to learn about the impact caused by their actions. RJCs are distinctive from the traditional case resolution processes in that they focus on identifying and directly addressing the impact caused by the violations, and they directly involve the student, as well as the involved/impacted parties, in the decision-making process about appropriate outcomes.
Benefits of the Restorative Justice Process
Empowers participants; allows for individuals to be heard
Promotes focus on impact of actions, rather than the act of rule-breaking
Supports sharing of information
Encourages collaborative decision-making
Increases participation satisfaction
How Restorative Justice is Being Used as a Case Resolution Process Within Student Rights & Responsibilities
Restorative Justice Conference (RJC):
A facilitated dialogue among student respondent(s), involved/impacted parties, and DU community members. Trained facilitators guide the process. Each RJC participant is invited to share their perspective and discuss the impact caused by the student’s actions. After discussion of impact, the RJC participants engage in a collaborative decision-making process to identify appropriate educational outcomes that the student will need to complete in order to resolve the incident. The purpose of the agreed-upon outcomes is to help meet the needs of the community, help the student address the impact caused by their actions, and raise the awareness and participation level of all participants.
Initiating the Restorative Justice Conference Process:
Student Rights & Responsibilities cases are referred to the RJC process after a one-on-one hearing with a Student Rights & Responsibilities Administrator or Housing & Residential Education staff member.
Student Eligibility for Participation in a RJC:
For a student respondent to be eligible to participate in the RJC process, that student must:
- take active responsibility for their actions,
- exhibit a desire to learn about and address the impact of their actions, and
- to move forward positively from the incident by addressing a community need.
For the RJC process to be successful, it is important that eligible student respondents come prepared to accept responsibility for their actions and to listen to those impacted by their actions
Implementing a Restorative Justice Conference (RJC):
There are three phases to the RJC process: a pre-conference one-on-one consultation, the RJC process, and the implementation follow-up of agreed-upon outcomes.