“Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding.” Dale Carnegie’s tip on how to win friends and influence people also captures the cornerstone of mediation—mastering conflict with cooperation. As do the themes of Cornell University’s values: excellence, diversity and inclusion, openness, and collaboration. The core values of mediation align seamlessly with the mission of Cornell, and likely with the missions of many other universities as well. Mediation could bring peaceful resolution to the “organized anarchy” of college campuses.
Conflict is commonplace on campus. The close proximity of a diverse population keen on analyzing societal issues creates a breeding ground for disagreement. Campuses are unlike corporations in that they often have multiple missions and more dispersed decision-making mechanisms than the traditional top-down organization. Higher education institutions often become fragmented and specialized, resulting in competing institutional missions rather than one clear goal, which leads to internal conflict. Thus, colleges and universities must have some kind of conflict resolution system. This article will discuss that higher education institutions should use mediation as a tool to encourage constructive conflict on campus.