Introduction to Mediation

Introduction to Mediation

What is mediation?

Mediation is the intervention into a dispute by an acceptable, impartial, and neutral third party who assists disputing parties with talking to each other about their concerns, needs and expectations.  

When should mediation be considered?

  • When having trouble communicating about conflict with another person(s).
  • When there is a need and/or a desire to preserve an ongoing relationship when experiencing conflict.
  • When material decisions need to be made (e.g., living arrangements) with someone with whom conflict is being experienced.

What is considered confidential?

  • The mediator and the participants will consider all conversations confidential, including information about potential college policy violations.
  • Out of respect for privacy, the mediators and the participants will not disclose conversation content outside of the Wheaton College mediation team; any notes recorded will be destroyed at the end of the conversation(s).
  • Wheaton College does not allow any person to record in any manner (video, audio, or other electronic means) any part of a mediation.

What are exceptions to confidentiality?

  • If a mediator learns anything that causes them to be concerned about serious imminent harm to oneself or others inside or outside of the meeting, they will disclose that to the appropriate persons to provide the necessary help.
  • As a Wheaton College staff member, each mediator is a mandatory reporter by the State of Illinois requiring the reporting of knowledge about potential harm such as: 1) child abuse or neglect; 2) elder abuse or neglect; or 3) abuse or neglect of a person with a disability, to the appropriate authorities.
  • Wheaton College staff members are also considered a responsible employee by the Federal Government requiring the reporting of knowledge about potential: 1) sexual violence; 3) dating violence; 4) domestic violence; 5) or stalking, to the Equity & Title IX Office unless they work in the Counseling Center, Chaplain’s Office, or Health Services.

Who are the mediators?

A team of Wheaton College employees is trained as mediators.  The Center for Conflict Resolution in Chicago is an off-campus referral source for free mediation services.

What can someone expect before the mediation? 

Exploratory questions such as:  

  • Do the people in conflict want to talk to each other with the help of a neutral 3rd party?
  • Do the people in conflict feel comfortable with the neutral 3rd party?
  • Do the people in conflict want to participate in open discussion about their concerns causing conflict, needs, and expectations?
  • Are the people in conflict comfortable with a private, voluntary meeting?
  • What is a good time for a two-hour meeting time block?

What can someone expect during the mediation?

Introductory statement from the mediator about their role

  • Facilitates communication between participants.
  • Asks clarifying questions and summarizes statements to promote understanding.
  • Impartial toward the participants and their concerns.
  • Helps participants clarify their needs and expectations.
  • Prompts participants to explore ways to meet their needs and expectations. 

Good faith effort

  • Participants agree to give their best effort to communicate, to listen, and to generate ideas.

Sharing & hearing participant perspectives

  • Includes information relevant to understand the concerns causing conflict from the perspective of each person participating.
  • Includes a description of the ideal result of participating in mediation.

First open discussion

  • Based on the participant’s perspectives, the mediator establishes an agenda for a time of open discussion between participants to better understand the concerns causing conflict and the underlying needs and/or expectations.

Private meetings

  • A private and confidential meeting between the mediator and each participant helps clarify needs and expectations as well as the ways those needs and expectations may be met in the future.
  • The feasibility of ideas to address needs and expectations are discussed.

Second open discussion

  • Another open discussion time is usually needed for participants to talk further about ways to address each other’s needs and expectations, and if desired, to agree on mutually acceptable ideas.

Mediator summary of agreements if agreements are reached.

Who can I contact with follow-up questions?

Follow-up questions may be directed to Paul Chelsen, Vice President for Student Development, or 630.752.5026.

September 2023