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About Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution is one of many different available options for individuals to proceed through when settling a disagreement. Alternative Dispute Resolution, also known as ADR, is more of a collaborative approach to problem solving. It offers individuals a way to more fully understand the viewpoint of the other party, or parties, involved in a conflict or disagreement. It also allows for parties to come up with more creative alternatives to solving issues and is often more conversationally based.

The Office of Student Accountability and Resolution began to see trends in its incoming reports of issues that seemed to stem from miscommunication among students. These communication issues were seen across campus, whether it was between roommates, classmates, or even faculty/staff and students. The cases that were coming to our Office, however, were not always violations of the Student Code of Conduct. It was clear that the behavior and communication styles of the individuals needed to be addressed, but there was not always something with which our office could “charge” the student(s). We clearly needed an alternate way of handling these special cases and after much research, ADR seemed like it could be the answer.

We added Alternative Dispute Resolution to the Student Code of Conduct in the Summer of 2020 and officially started implementing the process in the Fall of 2020.

 

History of ADR

Alternative Dispute Resolution, as it is known now, originated in England as early as 1066. English citizens held their own informal court to solve private disputes. Often these informal meetings were led by respected male members of the community. Sometimes, instead of trying a case in king’s court, the king would adopt the decision of the citizens. This is one of the first forms of arbitration created. In the American Colonies, mediation was more popular than traditional lawyers and courts. After the United States gained independence, arbitration was mainly used for patent claims until the 19th century when the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) was created. Then, in the 1920s congress enacted the “Federal Arbitration Act”. Throughout the 20th century it grew in popularity in America and now ADR is a big part of the American Legal System.

Source: McManus, M., & Silverstein, B. (2011). Brief History of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the USA. Cadmus: Promoting Leadership in Thought That Leads to Action, 1(3), 100-105.