Hong Kong Shue Yan University has signed the “Mediate First Pledge” in February this year, signifying our commitment to resolve disputes through mediation. Dr. Wendy LUI, the Head of the Department of Law and Business, said that the signing of the pledge will help promote the use of mediation to staff and students when facing disputes, conflicts and violations of rules.

Dr. LUI said in an interview with Shue Yan Newsletter that the “Mediate First Pledge” was launched in 2009 by the Department of Justice to encourage the use of mediation as the first step to resolve disputes. The use of a third-party neutral, the mediator, to explore into options that the disputing parties are willing to accept is much more constructive than resorting to other means of dispute resolution, such as court litigation, which is time-consuming and costly.

Dr. LUI said that meaning of signing the pledge is not just as a promise to use mediation first. It is equally important to educate and promote the use of mediation. In a university, the nature of disputes is very often on the relationship between students, or between students and staff, particularly on the enforcement of rules. Mediation is highly applicable as disputes of this nature could be more readily resolved, and more importantly, the relationship can be restored.

Mediate and restore relationships

She said: “Combining the notion of restoration in mediation practice will give the offending student a chance to learn how they have harmed those who are adversely impacted, and to make reparation more specifically, sometimes through an apology. This will reduce recidivism and will help in building a more harmonious campus.”

An example of the use of mediation is in disputes in the halls of residents where breach of rules or complaints from residents happen from time to time. Using mediation, the person who has done something wrong will be given a chance to hear from those who are affected, and therefore be more able to admit the wrongs done, to make reparation, and to apologize. The outcome is a lot more positive than merely imposing punishment.

A first and foremost step in the promotion of mediation is education. Shue Yan has, in the past, arranged workshops for students while teachers and staff may choose to attend professional mediation courses. On top of these, the Department of Law and Business will organize more activities to provide learning opportunities for all. The Interschool Mediation Tournament was held recently for this purpose. Students will learn mediation through rounds of role-playing exercises and get a better sense of how the process helps in resolving disputes.

As an Accredited Mediator, Dr. LUI described the work on promoting mediation as planting seeds for the development of “Mediate First”. “This mission meets with Shue Yan’s motto of cultivating virtues of benevolence – in practising mediation, we treat people with respect, and we are empathetic in considering the concerns behind an act.”

Source: March 2021 Issue