1st Edition

Applying Restorative Justice to Campus Sexual Misconduct A Guide to Emerging Practices

Edited By Kaaren M. Williamsen, Erik S. Wessel Copyright 2023
    276 Pages
    by Routledge

    276 Pages
    by Routledge

    While sexual misconduct on our college and university campuses, both public and private, is dismayingly widespread, it continues to be significantly underreported because most victims perceive that judicial recourse, with its legalistic adversarial approach, fails to address--in a healing way--the harms done to them. Fewer still file formal complaints, many for fear that they may lose agency and that the process may rekindle the trauma of their experience.Recognizing the reality that supermajority of sexual harms in higher education are rarely addressed through established legalistic practices, this book offers a range of alternative approaches based on restorative justice.Starting from the premise “What if we started with the goal of healing in mind”, this book opens with an overview of common restorative practices and accounts of application and lessons learned by practitioners who have implemented a range of restorative justice and alternative-based approaches. Subsequent chapters cover procedural elements, recommendations around documentation. and interventions for individuals who have caused harm through sexual and gender-based misconduct.The book addresses facilitation; the need to pay attention to self, people, and systems, identities, and power dynamics; the considerations for working restoratively with both complainants and respondents; offers cases and adaptable examples of resolution; and concludes with reflections on institutional implementation from the perspectives of administrators, facilitators, and a student survivor. Recognizing there will always be a need for a formal investigatory approach to cases of sexual misconduct, the book offers a wide range of alternative options that empower those who are most directly affected to make the call for themselves. In doing so, it may increase reporting and, furthermore, in offering a healing justice that addresses individual and community needs, may work to reduce sexual misconduct on campus.


    Ryan Holmes, Tamara King, and Jennifer Meyer Schrage


    Part I Philosophy and Getting Started

    1. A Restorative Justice Approach to Campus Sexual Misconduct. Restorative Guideposts and Insights from Early Adopters

    Kaaren M. Williamsen and Sheila M. Mcmahon

    2. Building Restorative Principles into Campus Policies

    Chelsea Jacoby and Erik S. Wessel

    3. What About Due Process? Addressing Common Concerns and Questions about Using Restorative Justice in Cases of Campus Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct

    Pablo Cerdera and Elise Lopez

    Part II Process and Intervention

    4. Building Restorative Options

    Jessica D. Naidu and David R. Karp

    5. When Informal Is Formal. Procedural Documents, MOUs, Agreements, and Administrative Case Management Considerations

    Chelsea Jacoby and Joe Zichi

    6. Specialized Interventions for Addressing Problematic Sexual Behavior

    Joan Tabachnick and Jay Wilgus

    Part III Facilitation Focus

    7. Embodying a Restorative Approach. Attending to the Complexities of Restorative Justice for Campus Sexual Misconduct

    Sheila M. McMahon and Desirée Anderson

    8. Facilitating Repair and Restoration. Guiding Restorative Practices with Those Who’ve Experienced and Caused Sexual Harms

    Carrie Landrum

    9. Healing through Supported Dialogue. A Reflection and Three Case Studies

    Toni McMurphy

    Part IV Reflections on Implementation

    10. Adaptable Resolution. Where Justice and Healing Meet

    Carrie Landrum

    11. Reflections on Starting a Restorative Justice Program

    Ish Orkar

    12. System-Aware Considerations for Restorative Responses to Campus Sexual Misconduct

    Jasmyn Elise Story

    13. Implementation of Institutionally Facilitated Restorative Justice Approaches to Campus Sexual Harm

    Rachel Roth Sawatzky

    14. Practitioner Reflection

    Rachel King

    15. Case Study. Restorative Justice for Campus Sexual Misconduct

    Frank A. Cirioni

    16. Reflections on Piloting a Process

    Jake Dyer and Kasey Nikkel

    17. Observations and Reflections From a Restorative Justice Process Participant

    Elizabeth Larky-Savin

    18. Reflection – STARRSA AP Implementation Recommendations

    Jim McEvilly

    19. Transformation

    Kendra Svilar

    20. Practitioner Reflection on the Ripple Effects across Communities

    Erik S. Wessel

    Appendix A

    Editors and Contributors



    Kaaren M. Williamsen is Director of PEAR (Prevention Education, Assistance & Resources) in the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office at the University of Michigan. PEAR is a new 7-person office focused on providing prevention and policy education for faculty and staff, as well as by providing assistance to all 19 schools and colleges as they holistically respond to sexual misconduct in their communities. She has also served as Director of SAPAC (Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center) at the University of Michigan. Prior to U-M, she served as the Title IX Coordinator at Swarthmore College, and was the founding director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at Carleton College, where she also served as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Kaaren has masters’ degrees in women’s studies (Minnesota State, Mankato) and counseling and student personnel psychology (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities); she holds a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, policy, and development from the University of Minnesota. She is a co-founder of Campus PRISM (Promoting Restorative Initiatives for Sexual Misconduct) and is a restorative justice facilitator trainer and consultant.

    Erik S. Wessel is the Director of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) at the University of Michigan. OSCR is a multi-disciplinary office which employs a spectrum model of restorative resolution pathways for campus community conflict and accountability. It is in this role that he has collaborated on the development and effective implementation of Adaptable Resolution pathways for Sexual and Gender-based misconduct, as well as building effective psychoeducational intervention tools responsive to sexual and gender-based educational needs. Erik holds a Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education Administration from Penn State University with specialization in Counselor Education. Prior to joining the OSCR team in 2015, Erik served as the Director of the Office of Student Conduct at Ferris State University and worked in student conduct and Residence Life at Penn State University.

    "This book expertly outlines ways to offer justice and restoration to survivors, strengthen the humanity of offenders through responsibility, and to caringly support the narrative of community. While campus policies and procedures are necessary, violations of such are not the core of any community; people are. Applying Restorative Justice to Campus Sexual Misconduct displays how the creating and respecting community standards, accepting responsibility, restoring community members, and providing education can all be achieved."

    Ryan C. Holmes, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, University of Miami

    "Applying Restorative Justice to Campus Sexual Misconduct serves as a much-needed resource for Title IX and student affairs professionals. With the growing demand from survivors for restorative justice options, it is vital for practitioners to understand and apply the practice effectively. Emphasizing the importance of thoughtful treatment of all parties involved, this book provides the expertise and guidance needed to navigate cases involving sexual misconduct on campus, ensuring that restorative justice is practiced with the utmost care and consideration."

    Jennifer E. Henkle, Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response, NASPA

    "Williamsen, Wessel, and colleagues explore a restorative justice approach's why, what, and how for campus-based sexual violence. They make a case for restorative justice practices as a resolution option that prioritizes survivors' healing, perpetrators' accountability, and individual and collective learning and change. I've seen too many times how a compliance-based traditional process can undermine its own intended outcomes. They explore case examples, offer guidance and direction, and share wisdom and insights learned through integrated practice, deep reflection, and social justice-oriented praxis."

    Keith E. Edwards, sexual violence prevention educator and author of Unmasking: Toward Authentic Masculinity

    "This book, written by school administrators and restorative justice practitioners, is a comprehensive guide to the use of restorative justice for campus sexual misconduct. Incorporating the latest social science research, the authors offer detailed advice about restorative justice practice, provide compelling case studies, and describe program development. This is a must-read for school administrators, school-based restorative justice facilitators, and for all who seek a better way of responding to sexual harm."

    Donna Coker, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law

    "This is the go-to volume for all things related to Restorative Justice and Sexual Misconduct on college campuses. Williamsen and Wessel have curated a volume that is essential, both for those who are immersed in restorative practices and sexual misconduct and for those interested in learning more. This book is a must read."

    Alissa R. Ackerman, Associate Professor, Criminal Justice Program Coordinator, California State University, Fullerton

    "Restoring relationships and communities after a harmful experience is critical work for educators and leaders. This book provides guidance for those wishing to use restorative justice informed approaches (RJIA) to advance equity, transparency, inclusivity and fairness in their processes. While focused on responses to sexual misconduct, it is broadly useful for all of us who want to think as partners rather than as adversaries in creating human-centered educational spaces in which all of us can thrive."

    Rebecca Ropers, Professor of Higher Education and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, University of Minnesota