When to Consider Mediation
Chris, Mike, and John are students in the same residence hall. Mike and John are roommates while Chris has a single room next to them. There have been some problems between Chris and Mike and John over what is an acceptable level of activity and noise. Mike and John hold frequent meetings in their room. Last week, Chris and some of his friends called the campus police because Chris found it difficult to concentrate because of a meeting being held in Mike and John's room. After the campus police confronted them and asked them to "keep it down", Mike, John, and their guests were furious and went to Chris' room and angry, accusatory words were exchanged. The head of the residence was alerted and after an hour, she was able to quiet things down. Since these problems seemed to have gone on for some time, the residence manager referred Chris, Mike, and John to the mediation program.
Ben teaches microbiology at a large university. Elissa is a graduate assistant in the same department. They have been working on a project that, if successful, will yield many publication opportunities. Elissa is excited about the publication aspect of her research since she hopes to teach at a university. Having conducted a great deal of the actual experiments, she feels confident she will be cited as the co-author in any publication dealing with their research. Imagine her surprise when she read the departmental newsletter and realized that an article about their research hardly mentioned her name. Bob, however, was mentioned repeatedly as the principle investigator and sole author of any resulting papers. After several visits to Bob’s office, the department head’s office, and the dean’s office, with no satisfactory results, Elissa decided to contact a member of the alternative dispute resolution committee.
Molly works in the Information Department. Bobby is her boss. She has had difficulties arriving to work on time and is always apologetic, but Bobby feels she is just making excuses. Anger and resentment build as the issue remains unresolved after several heated discussions. The two find it difficult to converse without arguing. Bobby does not want to fire her-being a single mom Molly needs the job to support her children. Molly truly makes an effort to be at work on time but trying to get three young children ready for school can be difficult. Short of a formal disciplinary action, they elect to contact an alternative dispute resolution committee member.
It is the Holiday Season and all employees of the Dean of Student’s office of the local junior college are happily planning their holiday activities. Dean Miller, filled with good will and holiday spirit, decides that it would be festive for the telephone to be answered with a cheerful “Season’s Greetings, Dean of Students!” His longtime secretary, Miss Jones, refuses to answer the phone in this manner. Dean Miller is incredulous when she explains that her refusal is based on the fact that she is an atheist and does not celebrate any religious holiday. Advancing what he believes to be a reasonable compromise, he suggests that she answer the phone by saying “Greetings!” Miss Jones again refuses, arguing that she would be glad to answer the phone in this fashion if it were a year around salutation. However, since it has been confined to the holiday period, it is against her principles to answer in a fashion that is the functional equivalent to “Season’s Greetings!” Dean Miller is infuriated. He feels that his authority has been called into question. He goes to the president of the college, and the president suggests that they go to mediation before he makes an impulsive decision that will cause the university to be affected adversely.