Sometimes, for whatever reason, talking with the other person isn’t practical or it just doesn’t work. That’s when you bring in assistance.
People who can help mediate include your house adviser, a dormie, a friend, a resident director, a counselor, someone from the Honor Council. This person may be able to approach the person you are having trouble with to facilitate some sort of compromise solution, either as a go-between or in a face-to-face meeting, and serve as a mediator. Mediation is a more structured way to talk about the problem(s) and agree on some ways to solve it.
Anyone who attempts to help two people settle their differences needs to be trusted by everyone involved as neutral. If you send your best friend to talk to the guy upstairs about his cat, the pet owner may well be a little suspicious. Often times house advisers—maybe not even your own, but one from another dorm—are particularly good in these sorts of situations, as they’ve had some mediation training. If you can’t find a house adviser who can be neutral, the resident directors or the Honor Council will be able to help in a formal or informal way.
Mediation will vary a great deal from situation to situation, but there are some common elements: all involved get an opportunity to tell their side of the story and explain what they want, and then the mediator helps them figure out what they need to do to resolve the problem. Mediation is not designed to be punitive, but rather to help people think about how their actions affect others and to come up with considerate ways to live with each other. Mediation is entirely voluntary and can be broken off by any disputant at any time. In some disputes, mediation simply consists of all parties having a chance to state their views and discuss their disagreements in a structured, confidential, and non-judgmental forum.
One reason the Honor Council exists is to provide neutral mediators. The Honor Council includes students, staff, and faculty members who can assist with this step toward resolving the honor issue. Sometimes you may desire a mediator whom neither of you knows to facilitate discussion; sometimes you may just want a bit more formality . In any case, the Honor Council can help.
Certain ground rules must be agreed to for all mediation sponsored by the Honor Council: mediation is confidential, unless all parties agree otherwise; mediation is not a “hearing” and does not result in a judgment or finding, though it may result in a written agreement. If mediation fails, either party retains the right to institute formal proceedings according to the processes described in Article IV of the community constitution (sin.reed.edu/wiki/senate/communityconstitution).