UC Berkeley’s RJ Student Leaders program trains students to provide peer-to-peer training and services in restorative practices (community building and other circles) and restorative justice (responding to harm). As they invite their fellow students to engage in restorative practice and restorative justice, RJ Student Leaders promote a different kind of leadership that emphasizes engaged listening, empathy, conflict resolution, recognition of multiple truths.
Every year, RJ Student leaders train hundreds of students and staff and guid dozens of students through restorative processes to address harm resolve conflicts, and restore relationships.
RJ Student Leaders bring Restorative Practices to their communities in:
- Dorms and Co-Ops
- Theme Floors
- Sororities and Fraternities
- Student Government
RJ Student Leaders also work with community partners such as:
- RJOY, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth
- Berkeley High School
Processes Offered by RJ Student Leaders:
Community Building Circles
In community building circles, participants articulate shared values and agreements for communication and relationships. These circles provide opportunities for students to tell their stories and hear each others’ stories, and experience vulnerability and empathy together.
Restorative Responses to Conflict and Harm
RJ Student Leaders offer processes for resolving conflicts and restoring relationships and provide peers with skills and techniques to be empathic listeners, de-escalate conflicts, and develop resilience through restorative conversations.
In college, conflicts and harms arise from simple miscommunications, insensitive speech, arguments over beliefs and ideologies, even harassment and bullying. When left unaddressed, these conflicts can spin out of control, divide communities, and cause acute stress, mental, emotional and even physical harm.
Support and Consent Circles
We’ve collaborated with GASA (Greeks Against Sexual Assault), the ASUC (Associated Student Government), Sexual Assault Commission, and Community Care Advocates to offer several support circles for people who identify as survivors. Our focus is on building community and solidarity among survivors so they can share resources and ideas for cultural change.
Circles on Issues: the elections, social media harm, hate speech, and more
We’ve developed and piloted a variety of circles to give students a chance to talk to each other about issues that are on their minds and in their hearts.
Outcomes for RJ Student Leaders:
1. Development of skills in RP and RJ that are immediately applicable in personal lives and improve community relationships.
2. Opportunity to act as peacebuilders and peacemakers within their communities and across communities.
3. Chance to engage and develop relationships with Bay Area leaders of the national RJ movement.
4. Attainment of “soft skills” and research skills that can lead to careers in a growing RJ field and many fields.