The University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution continued its search for a new director yesterday with a presentation given by Jim Neumeister, the director of Northwestern University’s Office of Judicial Affairs. Neumeister is the second candidate for the post to visit campus this week.

On Wednesday, OSCR held a forum in OSCR’s office in South Quadrangle to give students the opportunity to ask Neumeister questions. Yesterday, Neumeister gave a 50-minute presentation in the Wolverine Room of the Union for an audience of about 30 faculty members and students.

Jay Wilgus, the other candidate for the director position, also gave a presentation this week for students and faculty. In an effort to find a replacement for its previous director Jennifer Schrage, who stepped down in December, OSCR has narrowed the list of candidates to Wilgus and Neumeister.

During his presentation, Neumeister said if hired he would work to spread campus awareness of OSCR and its services, including training services for residential advisors in campus residence halls.

Neumeister added that he would continue using the Spectrum of Conflict Resolutions Options model, which was developed in 2008 by Schrage and Monita Thompson, co-director of The Program on Intergroup Relations.

Thompson said the model could be described as a “spectrum of resolution options that moves beyond formal education models,” and that it also uses “a framework from a social justice perspective.”

Neumeister, who holds a similar position at Northwestern University, said offices like OSCR are viewed negatively by many students because they don’t fully understand their purposes.

Because two students who get the same punishment — like probation — may have differing views on that punishment, with one student thinking it is very unfair, Neumeister said OSCR is sometimes looked down upon.

Amanda Stasinski, a Rackham student and OSCR staff member, said because students generally only come to the office when they have done something wrong, it has “a rather negative” reputation.

“It’s where you go when you get in trouble,” Stasinski said. “A lot of students think it’s a waste of time.”

Neumeister added that OSCR has done a good job helping students by reducing emphasis on the institutional and judiciary aspects of conflict resolution.

“All early offices were called Judicial Affairs, and it had a very legalistic approach,” he said.

Neumeister said, if selected, he not only wants to spread awareness of OSCR and its ability to mediate conflicts but also to train students to handle conflict by themselves.

“We’re expecting all members of the community to recognize that conflict is inherent in our lives and to recognize that it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Neumeister said. “The idea is to put tools in students’ hands.”

In the next step of the hiring process, a committee of students and faculty members will meet with Simone Himbeault Taylor, associate vice president for student affairs, to discuss the two candidates. Taylor will make the final hiring decision.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *