The piece in the National Center for Student Leadership's free weekly eNewsletter, SA Matters, focuses on the fact that restorative practices seem not only to be useful for students, but also makes RA's job easier to do:

The University of Vermont (UVM) is using restorative practices—a particular set of ways to head off or respond to problems—not only to help make students’ residential life experiences better, but also to make the resident advisors’ (RAs’) experiences better.

Most RAs sign on because they want to help other students. What they sometimes find, however, is that they end up being the administration’s rule enforcers, says Ted Wachtel, president of the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

“RA’s feel whipsawed,” he says. “While many residential life departments say their mission is to build community on campus, when it actually becomes time to confront problem behaviors, they resort to punitive measures. This stigmatizes and excludes community members rather than bringing them together with their peers to find community solutions to what are ultimately community problems.”

At UVM, RAs were charged with building good living environments in their halls through the use of community standards (CS)—a student development philosophy that encourages students to be accountable to other students. However, at UVM, RAs had no training on how to actually implement CS on their floors, says Stacey Miller, UVM’s director of residential life.

As a result, some RAs burned out. Before 2010, when UVM began implementing restorative practices in residence life, it was typical for a dozen or more RAs to quit after the fall semester at UVM. After the implementation of restorative practices, however, only one of UVM’s 129 RAs resigned.

Read the rest here.

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