Skidmore's Fight Club and mediation course offer new methods to resolve conflict

Posted by Matthew Camuso

Skidmore's Fight Club may not include Brad Pitt and Edward Norton among its members, but it offers something more useful to the College's campus than a great movie. Fight Club, or the College's "Conflict Resolution group" promotes an environment where any individual or party can dispute issues and work to resolve conflicts.

Although recently establishment in fall 2010, Fight Club practices the classic method of mediation to solve issues.

Although few of us may go searching for conflict with others, such incidents do occur. Fight Club is prepared to mediate both conflicts between groups and personal conflict.

The club is open to anyone, but to become a certified mediator, mediation training is required. Skidmore offers a one-credit course on campus taught by Dean of Student Affairs David Karp and New York State Certified Mediation Trainer Duke Fisher.

The mediation course (ID 141) is offered in the fall and spring semesters and is 30 hours long. Participants practice "a set of facilitation skills that differ from the typical strategies people use when helping others resolve their disputes. For example, through specific methods of listening and strategic reflection, mediators uncover underlying issues without giving advice," Karp said.

The mediation course is certified by the state of New York. "[It] enables participants to become mediators with community mediation centers like Mediation Matters. Every county in New York has a non-profit community mediation center that works closely with the courts, and students have volunteered in their hometowns. Many states have reciprocity with New York, so our students have become mediators in their home states," Karp said.

Fight Club offers two types of mediation, the first of which is One Party Mediation or "Conflict Coaching," which refers to one-on-one meetings with a mediator.

The second type is Two+ Party Mediation. Fight Club's pamphlet states that Two+ Party Mediation is when "two or more conflicting parties as well as two trained, impartial and confidential mediators," meet in order to resolve a conflict.

Fight Club recognizes that it can be difficult to remain open-minded and solution-oriented in situations of conflict. The mediators are instrumental in guiding the process by staying impartial and helping the parties to understand each other's perspectives. "Once the need is clearly identified, the mediator helps the parties brainstorm a variety of potential solutions to the problem in a way that meets both parties' needs," Karp said.

Fight Club is confidential and anything said in Fight Club is not meant to leave the club. Fight Club aims to resolve conflicts and not to start new ones, so all mediators are prohibited from addressing any mediation session outside of the session.

Pamphlets about Fight Club can be found in the Office of Residential Life and any questions about Fight Club can be sent to Fight Club meets at 8:30 p.m on Wednesdays in the Inter Cultural Center.


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