Section: Features

Ombuds Campus Mediators facilitate harmony on the Hill

When students came back to Kenyon in mid-January, they were met with posters displaying a newly trained cohort of mediators on campus. These advertisements are part of an effort to increase awareness of the mediation service. The Ombuds’ office, a resource for conflict resolution at Kenyon, started the program about three years ago. Mediators are available to help with a range of interpersonal dynamics, from roommate problems to issues in student organizations. The current group of mediators includes faculty, staff and students that were trained in prior years, as well as the most recent cohort. So who are the new campus mediators and how can they help interested individuals work through conflict?

Talulla Sheridan ’25 became a mediator because of previous experience in her own life. “What I found for myself and for a lot of the people that ended up doing the training, was that we’d all been in situations where we felt like we sort of informally mediated with other relationships in our life,” she said. “That’s what kind of drew me to it, already feeling like those skills were something that I had practiced in other relationships and wanting to learn more about it and get certified.” 

Milo Yu ’26 was intrigued by the program because of his academic interests. “I’m interested in going into psychology, maybe therapy, something in that realm, and I felt this would give me useful skills for that,” he said. 

Yu, Sheridan and the other new mediators got their certification right before the start of the spring semester, completing the training on Jan. 14. Sheridan described the process. “We had a professional mediation firm come and lead us through a curriculum of training, and they were really efficient,” she said. “We went through a manual of terms and then did mock mediations and talked about psychological implications of mediation and what happens when people are in conflict and how to treat people in conflict. It was pretty interesting. It was a small group and a good system.” 

Yu also felt that the training was beneficial and unexpectedly straightforward: “There’s a lot to learn and understand, but I was surprised by how simple the actual mediation is. There are four skills that center it, and I practiced on my friends who were in a real, small argument. It felt good.” While both students found that the process was very streamlined, it was also quite comprehensive, with a total of 18 hours of training. 

Although the service has been around for about three years, Yu and Sheridan articulated that all of the mediators, both veterans and beginners, are focused on making it more approachable. Sheridan spoke on the hesitance that some students may initially have to seek out mediation services. “As much as I wanted to be a mediator, when I was first thinking about it, I realized I don’t actually know anybody who uses this service and I think that’s the main issue that the program is facing,” she said. 

Even though the idea of formal conflict-resolution may be daunting, the mediators are sympathetic to this concern and are actively addressing it. “We want to publicize this and make it something that students are aware of. It could seem intimidating or awkward, so we’re trying to figure out how to casualize it,” she said. Yu described the specific ways that the program is trying to increase outreach: “We’re doing office hours. Every mediator, once a month for an hour, has a room — sometimes there are partners — and anyone can walk in for that.” Yu also mentioned that there may eventually be a mediation table, similar to the weekly language tables that take place in Peirce Dining Hall. Additionally, Sheridan hopes that the mediation process can be a useful option for navigating dynamics between people in the Department of Athletics. 

When asked if there was any message that they wanted to convey about the service to the student body, Sheridan and Yu both reiterated that it’s a surprisingly helpful resource. 

If students are experiencing interpersonal conflicts on campus, the mediators are available through appointment or drop-in office hours for assistance.


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