Today, Co-President Julia Diamond '15 broke the first rule of Fight Club to discuss its work with The Skidmore News
Q) In a nutshell, what is your club?
A) We are a peer mediation group. In our general meetings we teach basic skills that pertain to mediation such as listening and the proper techniques. Anyone is welcome at these meetings. However, we also have a team of trained mediators who are certified by both Skidmore and the state of New York. When people have a conflict with another person or group of people, they may come in and we'll work with them in a productive fashion. Too often people just go back and forth and they get nowhere.
Q) Can you elaborate on conflict mediation?
A) Certainly, there are two kinds of mediation, group mediation and one-on-one. Most people seem to be more comfortable with the latter. We'll talk with them and try to root out the seed of the issue. From there, we'll often make a plan for how they can deal with the person they're having an issue with in a productive manner which will hopefully resolve the issue. One person I was working with went off and followed that plan, and he gave me feedback, telling me how much better he felt. We're open to the community and encourage students to come to us when they're fighting with their roommate, their friends, or when their friends are fighting with each other. We're confidential, and people can always choose their mediators. We really want to encourage people to use us as a resource.
Q) I think a lot of students might be uncomfortable coming to students with their problems, despite qualifications. How would you respond to that?
A) Well, as I said, we go through a lot of training to become certified, but a lot of the issues we want people to come to us for are roommate/ housemate problems. As students, I think we are better able to empathize and understand the problems at hand compared to older, more experienced mediators. As students we understand other students' needs. I'd also say that you shouldn't knock it until you try it.
Q) I think the other issue students might have is that the people they'd be sharing intimate details with are people they'd see around campus. Do you see that as a potential problem?
A) We are sworn to secrecy, we don't talk about it to anyone or amongst ourselves. We won't even talk about it to the students involved outside of the office. We have different hats, if you will. If we see the involved students outside of class, we'll smile, but say nothing more. There are a lot of mediators and chances are, there will be many you don't even know. I'm not even too familiar with some of the mediators. If you don't wish to speak to someone you know or might see often, there's definitely someone who will fit that description. We don't want people seeing us and thinking that we're judging them, because we're not. After the meeting or meetings we'll avoid talking about it because it's done, it's over for us. But if people ever want to return we're very open to that, and glad to hear feedback.
Q) What do you normally do at club meetings?
A) We do a lot of basic training on mediation. We hold workshops that teach people how to de-stress. We'll look at film clips such as, The Breakup and try to determine the central problem that's causing the conflict. It's a lot of fun but also a great lesson. We may also try to get a speaker, perhaps from the mediation group down-town, Mediation Matters. Speaking of which, we have a great relationship with the group and they produce tons of opportunities and internships for our mediators, who will be able to sit on real court cases and sometimes even mediate between groups along with an experienced mediator.
Q) Do you host campus events?
A) We have a whole week of events in mid-October called, Fight Week. The most notable of these events includes the “giving-thanks” cards. You'll see us set up in the Atrium, where you can fill out these cards for others and have them sent to their mailboxes. We're also going to try to do a pumpkin carving as a stress-release event; there'll hopefully be a capella groups performing and it'll be a great way to relax. There are plans for more events, too, but at the moments it's all tentative.
Make sure to keep an eye out for Fight Week, and if you're interested in joining Fight Club, meetings are Wednesdays from 9-10 p.m. in the ICC. Fight Club holds open-office hours for those interested in mediation from 2-6 p.m. on Sundays in the office of Campus Life on the third floor of Case Center.