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Frequently Asked Questions about Student Peer Mediation

Q: What is mediation?

A: Informal mediation is when parties problem solve without a third party. Formal mediation brings conflicting parties face to face in a safe environment, guided by two neutral co-mediators, to problem solve. At Gavilan, any mediation is always voluntary.


Q: Who initiates formal mediation?

A: At Gavilan, one or both of the parties to a conflict, or a sympathetic third party.


What happens in a mediation session?

A: Each party gets a chance to explain the conflict, and then mediators work to help the parties communicate effectively to reach a mutually agreeable solution.


Q: When can I use mediation at Gavilan?

A: Many conflicts between students can be mediated. The main requirements are that both parties to a conflict be willing to problem solve, and to respect confidentiality.


Q: Are there situations in which it's not appropriate to mediate?

A: Yes. Cases involving violence or threat of violence, child or elder abuse are not mediatable, and some gender and racial issues may be better dealt with through the legal system. Cases involving non-students are not mediatable at this time; for these situations, please contact the county Office of Dispute Resolution, (408) 792-2314.


Q: Is mediation binding?

A: Parties wishing to make a mediated agreement legally binding can take the agreement to attorneys, who can create a contract. Very few do so, yet most parties to mediations in Santa Clara county report satisfaction in follow-up surveys.


Q: Could I forfeit my right to initiate a lawsuit if I mediate?

A: No. Formal mediation is a great first step, but in the infrequent cases when mediation is not effective, all other avenues remain open. No one can, however, use information discussed at a mediation in a grievance or lawsuit. Confidentiality is protected by state law, as are the mediators and all parties present; it is very rare for subpoenas to be issued for mediation materials, or for mediators to be called to testify in court cases.


Q: How is mediation kept confidential?

A: All present at formal mediations sign a statement in which they attest that they have read and understood California's law requiring confidentiality in mediations.


Q: What will it cost?

A: Mediation is free to Gavilan College students.


Q: How can I learn more?

A: Check out, or call the Counseling Department at 848-4723 for general information. To schedule a mediation, contact Leslie (846-4951) or