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Restorative Justice

Answers to your questions

What is restorative justice?

Restorative Justice is an approach used in situations that require a deep understanding of the harm done, the needs of those affected, and the strategies for moving forward as a community and creating lasting change.

Throughout the process, those affected, those who’ve done harm and various stakeholders are actively engaged in understanding what happened, who was affected and to what degree, and who was responsible.

The process can lead to an understanding on the impact of a harmful situation on those affected. Only then can those who’ve done harm be held accountable and responsible—not only for their past actions, but for shaping for the future.

One of the most iconic applications of a restorative justice approach was used after the South African apartheid as a step towards democracy. It is also used by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Nova Scotia’s criminal justice system, school systems and at Dalhousie; these are just a few examples.

When is restorative justice chosen at Dalhousie instead of taking a formal route?

Most of our policies that address behavior including the Sexual Harassment Policy and the Student Code of Conduct provide for informal and formal routes. Restorative justice is an example of an informal route.

An informal route only proceeds if all the parties involved agree to it.

While restorative justice is part of an informal process, it results in very significant outcomes.

Is this a truly consultative process?

The role of the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention is to assist the parties in understanding the process, the choices available within that process, and any supports that may be needed throughout.

A number of the women who came forward chose a restorative justice process. Restorative justice consistently uses restorative, collaborative processes.

Isn’t the restorative process too soft on crime?

The restorative justice process may be difficult for people to understand. But it’s intended to focus on those most directly harmed, on understanding and repairing the harm caused, on holding individuals accountable, and on reinforcing a safe and respectful environment.

The university will be a dedicated partner in this process. If, at any time, the participants do not meet this standard, or do not demonstrate an appropriate commitment, the formal complaint procedure will be engaged.

Who can come forward?

Any member of the university community may seek advice and assistance in bringing forward a complaint. An advisor from Dalhousie’s Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention can assist individuals in identifying concerns, and in considering their options.

Will you name the perpetrators?

The process is confidential and it’s the university's practice to respect the privacy and confidentiality of our current and former students.

Who is responsible for restorative justice at Dalhousie?

The university is always an active partner in a restorative justice process. There are several offices within Dalhousie who could be involved in a restorative program for a student(s). The Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention, Student Dispute Resolution, Residence Life and Security Services all have specialties in the areas of restorative justice.