Mediation is a conflict resolution process in which an impartial third party assists the participants in the development of a mutually beneficial agreement. In mediation, decision-making authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes reducing the obstacles to communication, maximizing the exploration to alternatives, and addressing the needs of those involved or affected.
Mediation is based on principles of problem solving that focus on the needs and interests of the participants, as well as fairness, privacy and confidentiality, and self-determination.
These standards are intended to assist and guide ACC mediators and the mediation process at Austin Community College. Successful mediation programs are built on participant confidence and understanding; therefore, mediators must observe the highest standards of conduct.
Role of the Mediator
The role of the mediator is to facilitate negotiations, to establish an atmosphere of trust and respect, to disrupt nonproductive communication patterns, and to reframe the discussion. The role of the mediator is, also, to provide a neutral perspective, to serve as a reality check, and to ensure a balanced negotiation. The mediator will ensure that each participant has the opportunity to be heard and to be treated with dignity and respect. In some instances, the use of co-mediators may facilitate the mediation process. In such instances, the co-mediators will be courteous and supportive of each other and agree to their respective roles prior to the initial mediation session.
Impartiality and Neutrality
Impartiality - The mediator is obligated to maintain impartiality toward all participants. Impartiality means freedom from favoritism or bias, either in word or action. Impartiality implies a commitment to aid all participants, as opposed to a single individual, in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement. Impartiality means that a mediator will not play an adversarial role. The mediator has a responsibility to maintain impartiality while raising questions for the parties to consider as to the fairness, equity, and feasibility of proposed options for settlement.
Neutrality – Neutrality refers to the relationship that the mediator has with the disputing parties. The role of the mediator is to promote a balance between the parties and ensure a safe and neutral environment. If the mediator feels, or any of the participants states, that the mediator's position or experiences would prejudice the mediator's performance, the mediator should withdraw from mediation unless all parties agree to proceed.
Confidentiality and Exchange of Information
Confidentiality – Confidentiality relates to the full and open disclosure necessary for the mediation process. A mediator shall foster the confidentiality of the process. The mediator shall inform the parties at the initial meeting that all information discussed during the mediation, including information obtained during caucuses, shall remain confidential unless all parties agree to its disclosure. (In certain instances, applicable law may require disclosure of information revealed in the mediation process. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, requires disclosure of sexual harassment. If confidential information is disclosed, the mediator should advise the party(ies) that disclosure is required.) The mediator shall not permit recordings or transcripts to be made of the proceedings. The mediator shall maintain confidentiality in the storage and disposal of records.
Exchange of Information – A mediator should encourage the disclosure of information and should assist the parties in considering the benefits, risks, and alternatives available to them.
A mediator should not give legal or other professional advice to the parties.
A mediator should encourage the parties to reduce all agreements to writing.
Full Agreement – The mediator shall discuss with the participants the process for formalizing, if necessary, and implementing the agreement.
Partial Agreement – The mediator shall discuss with the participants the procedures available to them to resolve any remaining issues.
Termination by Participant – The mediator shall inform the participants of their right to withdraw from mediation at any time.
Termination by Mediator – If the mediator believes that the participants are unable or unwilling to participate meaningfully in the process or that a reasonable agreement is unlikely, the mediator may suspend or terminate the mediation.
The mediator will advise the EEO Officer only of the date the mediation occurred and whether or not agreement(s) was reached.
Training and Education
Training – An ACC mediator shall have successfully completed the 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training presented by the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law or other ADR-approved training as accepted by the core mediators.
Continuing Education – An ACC mediator shall maintain competence in mediation skills by staying informed of and by abiding by all relevant statutes or rules and by engaging in educational activities promoting professional growth and proficiency in mediation skills.
Privilege to Mediate
Qualification to mediate at ACC confers no permanent right to the individual, but is a conditional privilege that can be revoked by ACC. Violation of this Code or the procedural guidelines for mediation may result in disqualification to mediate at ACC.