FGCU Begins Applying 'Restorative Justice' to Student Offenses
FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University has begun incorporating the principles of restorative justice, a contemporary approach to justice that is gaining national recognition, into the University's way of doing business through judicial boards and conflict management.
Restorative justice, distinct from America's dominate retributive model which focuses on offender punishment, works to repair the harm that was done to the victim and community by an offender, and underscores the requirement for the offender to contribute to those repairs. The community takes an active role and responsibility in the restorative process to the offense.
Intrigued by work on the national level by Sandra O'Brien, assistant professor of Public Affairs and director of the FGCU Institute for Youth and Justice Studies, President William C. Merwin and provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Bonnie L. Yegidis established the FGCU Restorative Judicial Board Committee and named O'Brien the chairwoman.
"Student judicial affairs aid in the development and life-learning of students while ensuring that due process is provided," O'Brien said.
"Student judicial affairs should also embrace a greater proactive role in creating a campus community based on values, facilitating ethical dialogue and identifying shared community values, which are the underlying principles of restorative justice."
O'Brien is working in collaboration with other FGCU areas including student housing, prevention and wellness, campus police, and the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs.
"One of FGCU's guiding principles includes the recognition that informed and engaged citizens are essential to the creation and of a civil and sustainable society," interim dean for Student Affairs Michele Yovanovich said.
"We believe that the restorative justice system as prescribed by Dr. O'Brien is very effective when infused into current policies such as our Student Code of Conduct which serves as a guide for the student community."
In addition to revising the Student Code of Conduct, the committee works to provide more restorative assignments or sanctions for student case plans and training for Student Government leaders, judicial board members and housing staff.
"Restorative justice is a concept congruent with the values and philosophy of a strong on-campus residential program," director of University Housing Pam Schreiber said.
"Living in residence not only supports the personal development of individual students but also reinforces accountability and contribution to the community by each member. Restorative justice is an outstanding example of the 'living-learning' nature of the on-campus residential experience."
For more information, media representatives should contact O'Brien at (239) 590-7835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.