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Healing after a student suicide: Restorative circles at the University of Vermont.

Wachtel, Joshua
June 4, 2015

Source: (2011) REstorative Practices E-Forum. 16 February 2011.

I had met Humble a week before this incident — which investigators ruled a suicide — when I visited the University of Vermont to meet with a group of residence directors — RDs (professional university staff) — and three groups of RAs to learn about their progress during the first two months of using restorative practices, including restorative circles, in campus residence halls. In August 2010 the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Graduate School, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, had trained all 129 RAs plus other residential life administrative staff to run community circles, to help build community and raise awareness around such issues as communal living, alcohol and other drug use, sex and intimate relationships, cleanliness, incidents of bias and hate, and how to cope with stress and maintain personal boundaries. (In a community circle, one person speaks at a time, and everyone has a chance to contribute. Often a “talking piece” is handed around to indicate who “has the floor.”) RAs were also trained to think about responding to incidents like noise violations, vandalism and graffiti, cleanliness, illegal pets and pranks gone too far by working restoratively — with students, rather than doing things to them or for them, to involve residence communities in a process of regulating themselves. (excerpt)


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