How do we address harm when we don’t live up to our Principles of Community?
If you would like to discuss a situation in which we as a community or an individual have failed to live up to the Principles of Community and in doing so have caused harm, we have outlined the following steps or options for addressing this harm. This process is not intended to replace formal reporting of complaints. We envision this as both a community building process and a community accountability process built on the principles of restorative justice. Our goal is to center community members who have experienced harm by helping them access the tools they need to manage and heal from harmful experiences. When requested, this support can extend to facilitating an accountability process for those who caused harm, even when that harm is caused unintentionally. The process is also meant to provide space for those who have caused harm to understand why their actions were hurtful, access to tools that help them process and grow, and support when working toward reconciliation with the person who was harmed.
Our goal is not to arbitrate whether someone is ‘guilty’ of violating the code of conduct, to judge anyone's character, or to punish anyone. This process is not intended to replace federally mandated processes for addressing hate crimes, sexual violence/sexual harassment (Title IX), or UC law or policy violations (whistleblower reporting). Department members are still bound by ‘Responsible Employee’ clauses and must report any instances of sexual violence and sexual harassment to the Office for Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination (OPHD).
Process for seeking department support when you have been harmed
Reports can be made in writing or via one-on-one meeting to any of the people listed below. If you would like to make a report via one-on-one meeting to any of the people listed above send them an email to arrange a meeting time. There is no need to disclose the subject in writing, you may simply request a meeting. If you aren’t sure that you want to seek department support, would like to see a sample email of how to request a meeting to disclose an incident, or want tips on how to resolve the conflict yourself, see the resources section below. As this process is explicitly intended to address and repair harm, at this time we cannot take anonymous reports. We note, however, that it is always up to you how much information you choose to disclose and what information you do share will remain confidential.
All of the individuals designated for receiving reports will have completed training on principles of restorative justice, confidentiality, and university resources for addressing harm.
- the Vice Chair of Graduate Education (currently Prof. McCloskey)
- the Equity Advisor (currently Prof. Shekhar)
- the Department Chair (currently Prof. Reimer)
- the GSAC Diversity Equity and Inclusion Chairs (currently Francis Cunningham & Helen Bergstrom)
- CBE staff member representative (currently Kim Eastman)
- the university Ombuds (https://sa.berkeley.edu/ombuds)
The two primary goals of meeting with the party of your choice will be to have your experience heard and subsequently come up with a strategy for taking the next steps toward repairing harm. The person you disclose to may take personal notes but will not share any information with other parties without your consent (unless you report an instance of sexual violence or sexual harassment that meets the Title IX definition and therefore requires reporting to OPHD). We don’t intend for this to be an “investigatory” process, so there is no information you have to share. Additionally, you can choose to stop participating in the process at any point.
- You may be asked questions like:
- What happened?
- How have you been impacted?
- How is the incident affecting you now?
- What do you need to make things right?
- The person you disclose to may:
- ask you about your needs - are you struggling to meet your basic needs due to this situation, what do you need to feel safe, do you have a support network you feel can help you process this situation?
- provide you with resources to help you process the experience, including counseling and support through CAPS, Paths to Care, the GenEq Center, or the Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center
- The person you disclose to will work with you to figure out what you need to move forward past this harm. This could include, among other options:
- professional/external mediation
- work/academic accommodations
- an informally facilitated follow-up with the party who caused harm
- A consultation with the College of Chemistry Associate Dean or Chief Diversity Officer
- The person you disclose to will then help you create a plan to move forward. Together you should discuss:
- Who can information about the situation be shared with, and what parts of it would you like to remain private?
- If you are looking to pursue mediation, what resources exist to facilitate mediation and who will reach out to them?
- How can the department support you in getting the accommodations you need: e.g. do you need desk reassignment, do you need help talking to professors, advisors, or your boss about moving deadlines?
- How, if at all, you would like the parties who caused harm to be involved in the process?
Follow-up: After disclosing a harmful event and coming up with a strategy to address it, you and the person you disclosed will work together to enact this plan.
- Depending upon the circumstances, the department representative you talk to may be willing to informally follow up with the person who caused harm. If you choose to have the person you disclose to informally follow up with the person who caused harm, they may ask the person who caused harm:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking at the time? What are you thinking about now?
- How have people been impacted?
- What is needed to make things right?
For Mediation: a number of options exist for mediation. Depending on the situation and your comfort level the following are options:
- Professional/external mediation
- We can connect you to the Restorative Justice Center (or the Ombuds office) to facilitate a mediation session. Typically, this would involve the person who was harmed and the person who caused harm to first meet separately with the mediator to discuss what happened and what they need, then if necessary and desired to meet additional times together with both parties to resolve the conflict.
- Meeting one-on-one with the party who caused harm can be intimidating but may allow individuals to feel less defensive in the absence of external parties. We only encourage this method of mediation if you feel safe, comfortable, and have an established support network.
- If you choose one-on-one mediation, we can help you prepare a strategy for the conversation: where you would like it to occur, what you would like to discuss, how to invite the other party to the conversation, etc.
- We can also offer to follow up with you after the interaction to provide support.
Resources for Seeking Support
- Sample emails to talk with someone from the department about harm you experienced
- If you would like to seek counseling support through UC Berkeley, you can refer to the GSAC Guide to seeking mental health support
- If you would like external consultation on how to best go about addressing a harmful situation you may contact the Ombuds Office or the Restorative Justice Center directly
- If you would like to try conflict resolution on your own some tips can be found here