Reed Resources: Restorative Justice Coalition

The Quest sat down with Chairs of Restorative Justice, Judicial Board, and Honor Council to discuss the new year, the switch to Accountability Groups, and how they hope to continue supporting Reedies. This week, we’re featuring the one and only Restorative Justice Coalition. 

Restorative Justice Coalition is the newest member of Reed’s Accountability Groups — they aim to aid community members, especially by “[giving] agency back to everyone involved…it involves proactive collaboration, bringing community members together, addressing one harm problem instead of institutional rules broken.” Co-chair Robin Hardwick continues, saying that they think “more of what happened to cause that to happen, what is missing in the community that is needed, and finding ways to provide those things to the community.”

Restorative Justice values building community. Not only do they work to help community members repair relationships and address harm, but they also host community building circles to develop trust and relationships in the community. 

“We believe that harm is more likely to happen in communities that haven’t been built, and so we do a lot of work with community building circles to bring people together,” says Hardwick.

The switch from Reed Honor Groups to Reed Accountability Groups was an important step in framing Restorative Justice’s place on campus. 

“I think a lot of the language for [the change] comes from restorative practices more generally. Something that happens at the end of a harm circle is that there’s an accountability agreement, and so everyone involved in the circle — that can be community members, the person who did harm, the person who was harmed —  they come together to create an agreement going forward, and that was kind of a mindset we really wanted to put in with all the groups here at Reed. To address harm focuses less on the Honor principle and institutional rules, and more about what is being honorable… and so instead of focusing on giving people avenues to address harm, be accountable for harm. Because harm does happen, we all do harm,” Hardwick starts. 

“One of the reasons I really wanted to switch from calling ourselves the Honor Groups was also because there was Honor Council, and it was very very confusing to have the Honor Groups and then have Honor Council as a subset of that… We had also started to collectively realise that we don’t necessarily all focus on honor… In light of trying to move away from this general phenomenon of engaging honorably, it’s more like trying to take accountability when harm has happened in various ways,” Co-chair Tina Bardot says. 

Not only has Restorative Justice been working to create community on campus, but also acknowledge where their techniques and values stem from. 

“We’re trying to reach out to local, national, and international indigenous communities, because it’s really a practice that is informed by a lot of traditional peacemaking practices and other similar types of circle keeping that have been around for far longer than restorative justice has been hot shit in the United States. We’re trying to really avoid the big performative aspect of restorative Justice. We’re not going to claim that we are engaging in traditional practices because we aren’t. But we also don’t want to erase the people that have been doing what is actual restorative justice for hundreds of years and have been reviving these types of practices lately.”

Restorative Justice plans to do more for the community including education. Getting the word out about what Restorative Justice can do for the students, faculty, and staff is a priority. Bardot outlines, “We hope that we can kind of try to start building community across the different tiers of Reed, because we are all kind of like one big community and having resilience across those different boundaries and trying to remove those boundaries so that we feel more connected. … We have actually a really big circle event planned on October 13 where we’ll be inviting students, faculty, and staff to talk about their experiences and perspectives from the past year, and kind of having really directed and focused conversations around what kind of needs [arose] from that past year and what kind of needs are we anticipating for this coming year.” 

Students can find Restorative Justice Coalition tabling outside the GCC every Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and can reach out using the links in the QR Code printed below.

Finally, Bardot wants to impress upon the students just how Restorative Justice circles feel: “The experience of being in the circle is very unique, and it’s something that I honestly never thought I would feel… We try very, very hard to establish circle spaces that feel safe and supportive, because a big part of being in that circle is contributing what you need in order to be able to participate in order to feel supported and feel safe.”

Hardwick ends with, “I guess I would say Reed feels like you’re always in your own little bubble, like you’re suffering alone and everyone else is doing great, so circles are a time to expand that bubble and realize that you’re not alone, and that sounds so chest and all that but, I don’t know, circles are magic in that way… and I think I’m such a better person for having this experience.”

Quotes edited for clarity.

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