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Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation and why would I seek it out?

Mediation is a method of dispute resolution in which two or more parties who are in conflict meet with a mediator (or team of mediators) to help them understand their issues, identify their needs, communicate effectively, and explore options for resolution. In the MCR Initiative, our mediators work in teams of two. 

How do I request mediation?

If you’d like to request mediation, please complete this intake form. A team member will respond to you within 48 hours. If your situation is appropriate for mediation, we will walk you though the next steps, including connecting you to your co-mediators. If your situation is not suited for mediation, we will suggest alternative resources. 

How are co-mediators chosen for a particular case?

Co-mediators are primarily assigned to cases based on availability and expertise. The MCR team also ensures that there are no conflicts of interest between co-mediators and the parties within a mediation. For example, a mediator cannot be involved in a case with a colleague from their own school or unit or if they have any sort of personal relationship. Each case is reviewed for conflicts of interest before being assigned co-mediators. If a conflict of interest arises during a mediation, a new mediator will be assigned to the case.   

What kinds of cases do MCR team members mediate?

Each request for mediation is reviewed for its appropriateness for the MCR Initiative. If your case would be more appropriately handled elsewhere, our team will connect you with those resources and services. For example, the MCR Initiative does not mediate grade disputes, union negotiations, or promotion and tenure disputes. Those cases would be referred to their appropriate units within the University.  

What’s the difference between mediation, conflict resolution, and restorative practices?

Mediation, conflict resolution, and restorative practices are related but distinct terms. 

  • Mediation is a specific process within dispute resolution, in which two or more parties who are in conflict meet with a mediator (or team of mediators) to help them understand their issues, identify their needs, communicate effectively, and explore options for resolution.  
  • Conflict resolution is an umbrella term that can include a number of practices such as difficult dialogues, shuttle diplomacy, and arbitration, among others. The MCR Initiative takes an educational focus on conflict resolution, offering training and resources to use in your own working and learning environments.  
  • Restorative practices is another umbrella term comprising a variety of practices including community building circles, restorative justice/harm repair circles, and reintegration efforts, among others. The MCR Initiative focuses on community building circles only.  

Are MCR mediators responsible employees? What does this mean?

Yes, MCR mediators are responsible employees, not confidential resources. As employees of Northwestern University, MCR Mediators are mandated to report all allegations of sexual misconduct (including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment), discrimination based on a protected category, and harassment based on a protected category of which they become aware in the scope of their work for the University.  For more information, see the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance “Reporting Obligations” webpage. 

Confidential resources at Northwestern include Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Center for Awareness, Response, and Education (CARE), the Office of the Ombudsperson, and the University Chaplains in Religious and Spiritual Life. 

How do I request community building circle practice?

To discuss options for bringing community building circle practice to your team, fill out this form 

How can I become an MCR team member?

 A new MCR cohort runs every other academic year. Applications for the 2025-2026 cohort will open in Spring 2025. At this time, only benefits eligible staff are able to participate as MCR team members, but we hope to expand the opportunity to others in the near future. Additional opportunities to get involved with the MCR Initiative will be posted periodically on our website, so check back often and sign up for OIDI’s newsletter