On October 18, 2022, the de Vries Institute for Global Faculty Development hosted restorative justice expert Ted Lewis for a workshop with Calvin University staff and faculty. Lewis applied the principles of restorative justice (an alternative to more punitive or retributive approaches to justice) to situations of student academic dishonesty.
Lewis explained that in cases of academic dishonesty, universities and colleges (especially those guided by faith commitments) should consider aiming for the following:
- Processes that address harms of academic dishonesty (both to the individual student and the academic community) holistically and supportively through trust-building and dialogue.
- Processes that that empower offending students to share, listen, reflect, learn, and take positive responsibility for their actions.
- Processes that address the needs of those most impacted and support the reintegration of students into the learning community.
In a restorative approach, Lewis said, the rules for academic integrity must be shown to serve the relationships involved in the academic community. Processes for enforcing the rules, in turn, need to address the relationships that are harmed by the violation of rules.
Lewis is a restorative consultant and mediator for the Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is also founder and coordinator of the Restorative Church project. His other activities in the area of restorative justice include service on the board of directors of the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice and as series editor for Wipf & Stock Publishers' Restorative Justice Classics series.
In addition to this workshop, Lewis also gave presentations to Calvin's Student Life leadership team, the staff of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and the Religion Department. He gave a handful of talks and trainings that were organized by the Calvin Peacemakers student organization. And he spent 15 hours at the Handlon Correctional Facility training 12 graduates of the Calvin Prison Initiative as restorative justice facilitators.