As young adults, students function best when they play an active role in managing their own affairs. Building Campus Community teaches students, resident advisors and their supervisors to establish and maintain an effective community. When problems arise inclusive restorative processes can be used to respond to incidents, repair harm and reliably achieve positive outcomes.


RA’s discuss how they use restorative practices to address challenges

Residence LifeJudicial Affairs
College and university residential life administrators will find Building Campus Community a cost-effective way to provide residential advisors and their supervisors with the skills to effectively engage residents, establish authority and uphold expectations, while providing support and giving voice to resident needs and concerns. Residential staff learn to establish agreed upon behavioral norms, build decorum and facilitate collaborative processes that prevent and resolve conflicts.

Through collaborative processes, resident advisors establish norms and build relationships, empowering residents to take active responsibility and build and maintain a cooperative residential environment. Campuses implementing this program reduce formal disciplinary procedures because conflicts are less likely to occur and less likely to escalate.

With a comprehensive implementation model, administration and staff develop a customized plan based on their own goals. Staff are organized into “professional learning groups,” which foster peer learning. IIRP staff provide onsite professional development, follow-up phone consultation and ongoing evaluation of progress.

Once established, the Building Campus Community program is sustained by a cost-effective strategy that develops on-campus training capacity, so that selected residential staff provide professional development for new staff in the future.

View a video of Tomás Sanchez, Assistant Director in Residential Life at University of Vermont, talk about the role restorative practices plays in building community on campus.

Judicial affairs and student conduct officers, often working in coordination with residential life departments, may also develop a restorative framework for responding to more serious incidents on campus. A formal process – the restorative conference – is a scripted process that satisfies the needs of victims, repairs harm and helps change behavior. It may used in place of, or in addition to, other sanctions and conduct procedures.

Offenders, victims and their supporters all benefit from the free exchange of emotion that happens in a Real Justice restorative conference, a program of the International Institute for Restorative Practices since 1995. Offenders come face to face with those they affected and directly hear about the impact of their actions. Victims have a chance to tell offenders how they have been affected. In the conferencing process, offenders are more likely to experience empathy and gain understanding for those they have harmed — not only the victims, but also those close to the offender. They also have a chance to make amends and shed the “offender” label. In expressing their pain and anger, victims often find emotional relief that aids the healing process. Supporters have a chance to be heard and begin the process of restoring relationships. The conference process provides a way for all participants to discover their common humanity and move forward after a harmful event.

Case Study:

A student at Elizabethtown College, who had a long history of alcohol and drug violations was on probation and about to be asked to leave college. As an additional component of the campus judicial process, a restorative conference was offered to the student, who agreed to attend and invite his parents, as well.

The young man, a fellow student, the young man’s mother, the dean of students (who was also the director of residential life), a representative from public safety (campus police) and a counselor all attended the conference. Everyone had an opportunity to give the student feedback on the impact of his behavior and to make recommendations. The upshot of the conference was that the student took a semester off from college and followed many of the recommendations made at the conference, including attending an out-patient drug and alcohol clinic.

A semester later he was readmitted to the college, completed his course of study and graduated. Before graduation he met with the dean and said that if it hadn’t been for the conference intervention he believed that he would still be out using drugs. He felt that the conference was a turning point, which afforded him the opportunity he needed to make changes.

View a video about how restorative justice is being applied at Michigan State University.

Contact Us
Download program description (PDF) »

World Conferences

Restoring Community: 21st IIRP World Conference
October 24-26, 2016 | Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
Register now »

IIRP Europe Conference
Conflict in Europe Meeting the Challenge
May 9-10, 2017 | Dublin, Ireland

Learn More

Professional development opportunities provided by the IIRP Graduate School.


Book cover: Building Campus Community: Restorative Practices in Residential LifeBuy at IIRP Bookstore »

Building Campus Community (paperback, $12) is a practical handbook on the use of restorative practices in campus residential life. It includes comprehensive implementation guidelines as well as numerous true stories—some enlightening, some comical, some poignant—about how the practices are being applied in higher education.

Book cover: Restorative Justice ConferencingBuy at IIRP Bookstore »

Restorative Justice Conferencing: Real Justice and The Conferencing Handbook (paperback, $30) is two books in one volume: the official training manual that provides a step-by-step guide to setting up and conducting conferences and actual conference stories to show how conferencing works and how it can change the way our society responds to wrongdoing in schools, criminal justice, the workplace and elsewhere.