Summary of Restorative Justice at MSU Symposium

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In the spring of 2011 the Restorative Justice Committee at MSU had the pleasure of hosting the first Restorative Justice conference on campus. Our goal for the event was to start a campus and community dialogue about Restorative Justice and how we can use its principles in our work. We believe that we were able to reach these goals due to three main factors: the quality of information presented, the discussion generated throughout the Symposium, and the wide range of community members that were present.

Information Sessions

One of the most impactful sessions that we held at the Symposium was due to our amazing keynote speaker, Justice Janine Geske. Her presentation was emotionally and intellectually stimulating to everyone present, as she provided real life stories detailing her use of Restorative Justice with criminal offenders. As Justice Geske shared her experiences she was able to demonstrate the power of Restorative Principles in addressing the harm done to individuals and communities. This speech was preceded by several excellent poster presentations. Some of these outlined research on the use of Restorative Justice Principles, and some displayed the work currently underway to spread the message about RJ as an option to MSU students, faculty and staff. Also, a brief overview of Restorative Principles was presented in order to facilitate discussion about how they can be used in our community.

Case Studies and Discussion

Participants in the Restorative Justice Symposium were also invited to work through several case studies. These case studies were based on actual conflicts that have happened within the MSU community. While processing these scenarios, each participant was asked to consider the following focus questions: What might each of the people involved in the conflict be feeling? How could Restorative Principles possibly be used to solve the conflict? What kind of agreement could the people involved make to repair the harm done? These case studies and focus questions served as a starting point for a meaningful dialogue about how Restorative Justice Principles can be used in real-life situations involving students, staff, faculty, or other community members.

Campus and Community Partners

Finally, we feel that our success in creating a dialogue that will spread throughout the MSU community was also in part to the wide range of departments and programs that were represented. Participants from the Department of Student Life, Department of Residence Life, School of Criminal Justice, SARV Program, Women’s Resource Center, Campus Living Services, Social Work Program, Ombudsman’s Office, Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, Greek Life, Council of Graduate Students, Housing Assignments, College of Education, Student Affairs and Services, Office of Inclusion, and many others from various campus offices were in attendance. In addition, there were also members of the greater Lansing community present, including participants from the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, Wesley Foundation at MSU, Community Mental Health, City of East Lansing, and the Resolution Services Center.

In summary, our hope is that we can continue to work with these MSU community members to talk about how to use Restorative Justice in our work with students, faculty, staff, and the community as a whole. If you would like to comment on our Restorative Justice blog, please feel free to do so at the link provided under our “Testimonials and Blog” page located on the menu at the left.