Adaptable resolution is a voluntary, structured approach that utilizes a range of processes with the goal of balancing support and accountability without formal disciplinary action. This structured approach, grounded in the principles of restorative justice, is designed to be adaptable so that a process can be identified that is appropriate for the harm caused and to best meet the needs of the individuals involved. Adaptable resolution is structured to allow individuals who have caused harm to acknowledge responsibility for causing harm, to allow individuals who have experienced harm to identify the needs caused by the harm, and to allow participants to explore (separately or together) ways those needs can be met. Adaptable resolution provides opportunities for participants to play a role in shaping the process used and in determining the outcomes with support from trained facilitators.
Key components of adaptable resolution
- Adaptable resolution is always voluntary.
- Adaptable resolution always begins with initial individual meetings with prospective participants to ensure they have clarity on their options before agreeing to a process.
- Adaptable resolution acknowledges that each situation is different and that the process used in response should be appropriate to the circumstances and determined with the participation of the parties involved.
- Adaptable resolution does not require interaction between individuals who have caused harm and individuals who have experienced harm. Both direct and indirect processes are available.
- Adaptable processes can be available in situations where the participation of all individuals is not requested or where not all individuals are willing or able to participate.
- Adaptable resolution processes do not involve formal disciplinary action and can be used after or in lieu of a formal disciplinary process.
When adaptable resolution involving individuals who have experienced harm and individuals who have caused harm is requested in response to sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual misconduct, dating misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, individuals will be referred to the Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator to ensure individuals fully understand process options and to provide any requested supportive measures or accommodations. For behaviors that fall within the scope of Title IX Sexual Harassment Investigations and Resolutions Procedure, an adaptable resolution process can only be initiated after a formal complaint has been filed with the Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator. At any time prior to the completion of adaptable resolution, participants can choose to withdraw from the process and/or the facilitators can determine that adaptable resolution is no longer appropriate, and the case will be referred back to the Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator. All adaptable resolution processes that originate with a Title IX complaint must end with a completion agreement and may include action steps to be taken. Adaptable resolution facilitators will not participate in any internal formal hearing or investigation process except to attest to failure to comply with a completion agreement by a person who caused harm after the conclusion of an adaptable resolution process.
Overarching logistics of adaptable resolution
- An individual who has experienced harm or an individual who has caused harm requests or is referred for an initial overview meeting about adaptable resolution.
- A trained facilitator describes what adaptable resolution is, how it works, and the processes available depending on the situation. The facilitator will also ask whether or not the individual wants to involve other participants, either directly or indirectly.
- If the individual wants to explore options involving other participants, a trained facilitator will contact prospective participants to schedule a meeting during which they will provide the same overview of adaptable resolution and possible options.
- A trained facilitator will work with participants separately to explore and identify a process that feels appropriate and will schedule additional separate meetings with each participant to prepare them to engage in a facilitated interaction with each other (if a direct process is selected).
- If a direct process is selected, once participants are ready, a trained facilitator will schedule a time to bring the participants together for the adaptable resolution process. If an indirect process is selected, a trained facilitator will work with participants separately as they move through the chosen adaptable resolution process.
*Individuals interested in exploring an adaptable resolution do not need to know the type of process they would like to use before scheduling an initial meeting. In addition, the process may change as individuals identify their needs and how best to meet those needs using adaptable resolution.
Sample adaptable resolution processes
* This is not an exhaustive list of available processes.
Direct processes involve structured, facilitated interaction between individuals who have caused harm and individuals who have experienced harm. Participants first meet separately with a facilitator to prepare them to meet with each other.
- Restorative conference - A process designed to allow individuals who have experienced harm to describe the ways they have been impacted by harm and individuals who have caused harm to hear that impact and take accountability for causing the harm. A restorative conference may also include other members of the community (agreed upon by the primary parties) whose participation can enable the exploration of impact on and obligations to the larger community.
Indirect processes do not involve in-person interaction between individuals who have caused harm and individuals who have experienced harm. Trained facilitators meet separately with participants to explore harms and impact and to work towards identifying and meeting the needs caused by the harm.
- Impact statements/videos - A process by which an individual who has experienced harm describes the ways they have been impacted by harm with the goal of having that harm be understood by the individual who caused harm without having to interact with the individual directly.
- Accountability statements/videos - A process by which an individual who has caused harm can take accountability for the impact of their actions without interacting directly with the individual harmed.
- Indirect agreements - A process by which a trained facilitator supports both an individual who has experienced harm and an individual who has caused harm as they work separately to develop an agreement that outlines the action steps that can be taken to meet the needs of the individual who has experienced harm.
*Both direct and indirect processes may involve agreements that outline action steps intended to address the needs caused by harms. Agreements are not required but can be developed when parties seek to create them as part of the process.
Independent processes are used when individu
als who have caused harm or individuals who have experienced harm engage in a process when the participation of other parties is not requested or where not all individuals are willing or able to participate. Trained facilitators work with the individual who has sought support to identify needs and desired outcomes.
- Accountability circle - A process involving an individual who has caused harm, trained facilitators, and other members of the campus community designed to balance taking accountability and providing structured support for learning, growth, and/or strategies to avoid future harms.
- Affirmation circle - A process involving an individual who has experienced harm, trained facilitators, and other members of the campus community designed to balance affirming the impact caused by harms and identifying needs that members of the individual’s support network can help to meet.
Role of facilitators
Adaptable resolution facilitators are formally trained in restorative justice as well as bias and historical harm and participate in annual training on current Title IX regulations. The role of facilitators is to ensure that prospective participants understand the overarching principles and processes available through adaptable resolution, to help participants identify the process best suited to their situation, and to guide participants through the process of identifying harms and meeting needs. While adaptable resolution processes are designed to provide agency to participants, facilitators are trained to assess the appropriateness of potential processes and the suitability of potential participants for the given circumstances. A foundational tenet of adaptable resolution facilitators is to actively work to ensure the process does not cause additional harm.
Using adaptable resolution
For more information about adaptable resolution or how to request an adaptable resolution process, please contact Noreen Pecsok, Coordinator of Educational Outreach and Restorative Practices in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.