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Process Steps

There can be several steps in a Restorative Process, beginning with the referral and ending with the completion of Restorative Outcomes. Restorative Processes are voluntary for all participants. Attending meetings for a Restorative Process does not obligate a participant to continue with the process. 

  1. Referral: Students, faculty, staff, or other individuals may refer a case to OSARP. This case can be the result of a policy violation as outlined in the JMU Student Handbook or as the result of a conflict or harm created that is not related to JMU policy. 

  2. Intake Meeting: After a referral, all available and relevant participants meet individually with a Restorative Practices facilitator in OSARP. This is an important step in the process because it allows us to hear everyone’s perspective and story regarding the conflict or situation. During this meeting, we ask questions like, “What happened?” “Who was harmed?” “What were the impacts?” “What needs to happen to make things as right as possible?” Together, facilitators and participants will decide whether to move forward with a Restorative Process. The Restorative Practices facilitators hold the right to suspend a process if they feel it may cause further harm to any of the participants involved. 

  3. Restorative Process: If it is decided to move forward with a Restorative Process, it will be guided by one or more Restorative Facilitators. This may involve a Circle Process, a Restorative Conference, a Shuttle Process, or an Apology Letter. See our approaches below for a more detailed understanding of processes.

  4. Determine Restorative Outcomes: After sharing perspectives, harms, needs, and determining obligations, participants collaboratively decide how to best address the harms experienced. This may include, but is not limited to, education, community engagement, wellness workshops, and/or written apologies or acknowledgements. Participants then sign a Restorative Agreement containing these outcomes. 

  5. Completion of Outcomes: After the Restorative Agreement is signed, the facilitators will follow up with participants to confirm the completion of outcomes. 

  6. Evaluation and Feedback: OSARP aims to continually improve our programs and services. Participants will be asked to complete an evaluation to help us best serve our community.
Facilitated Practices
Circle Processes

Circle Processes are used to bring all parties involved in a conflict or harm together to share their perspectives and learn more about harms created, the impact of those harms, and ways for the harm to be addressed. Participants should plan for the Circle Process to last about two hours. However, there are times when the process will be longer, or more than one meeting will be needed. This process usually involves a larger participant size (four+ individuals). In a Circle Process, participants sit in a circle and are encouraged to share openly and honestly about their perspectives. They answer questions about how they have been harmed, how others may have been harmed, and how they can address the harm created. Often, support persons and community members will be present to provide their input. A Circle Process can be the result of a sanction from the Accountability Process or a referral.

Restorative Conferences

ARestorative Conference is a meeting, or a series of meetings, with two primarily involved parties that have caused and/or experienced harm, along with one or more  Restorative facilitators. Some conferences include a small number of community members when there has been community impact. During the conference, the facilitators guide the parties by asking questions such as “What happened from your perspective?” How have you been impacted? What impacts or harms have you contributed to?” and, “What can be done to make things as right as possible?” Those who experienced harm can share how they were impacted, and those who caused harm have the opportunity to accept accountability and work towards making things as right as possible. After impact and perspective sharing, facilitators help participants create a Restorative Agreement, which includes action items for those who cause harm. Conferences can take place in person or virtually, depending on the needs of the participants.  

Conversations About Conflict

Conversations About Conflict is a one-session, two-hour program. It is meant for students to reflect on how they deal with conflict in their relationships with friends, roommates, family members, professors, university staff, strangers, and themselves.  Through this one-on-one workshop, students will be given the opportunity to assess their conflict style, discuss how their community is impacted by conflict, and develop skills for future engagement in conflict.  Upon completion of the workshop, students submit a reflection paper.  Conversations About Conflict may be used to: 

  • Resolve a dispute (past, present) 
  • Prevent an unnecessary dispute 
  • Prepare for a conflict conversation 
  • Generally improve competency in conflict management 
Other Approaches

Apology Letters and Reflection Papers may serve as a single approach or an additive to a recommended process. We use the Eight Key Questions to help students understand their actions and reflect on their decision-making. 

Shuttle Processes consist of separate, alternating, facilitated meetings between the facilitator(s) and each party (and potentially other participants). Participants discuss perspectives in order to identify harms, needs, and obligations. In a Shuttle Process, participants interact with one another indirectly through the facilitator(s) and do not meet in-person for a facilitated conversation unless desired and agreed upon by the parties. This process concludes with the development of a Restorative Agreement. 

Letter and Video Exchanges allow participants to communicate their perspectives without meeting in-person. The facilitators meet with each party separately and pass the letters/videos in between parties.  


Details of the Restorative Process are kept confidential by OSARP staff members and volunteers to the extent permissible by law, except for a brief report from the facilitator to any referring party and the appropriate administrator(s) that an agreement has been signed by the parties. The facilitator will also report to the above parties if an impasse is reached and no agreement is forthcoming. This permits further exploration of other options for resolution of the conflict. However, if a threat to the health, safety, or security of any member of the university community becomes a concern to the facilitator, they will inform the parties that appropriate authorities must be notified. Facilitators will also have to report potential Title IX violations, a participant’s plans to harm oneself or others, child abuse, and elder abuse to appropriate University offices.

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