Webinar: Restorative Responses to Sexual Assault on College Campuses

When: -

Guest: David R. Karp and Kaaren M. Williamsen

Host: Howard Zehr

A national social movement is well-underway to address campus sexual and gender-based misconduct. This has raised awareness; fostered policy and procedural changes; increased training, case management, and data collection; and increase reporting and adjudication. However, this movement has often promoted adversarial and retributive responses that may lead to prolonged trauma for victims, adverse educational outcomes for both parties, and a contested campus climate that reduces reporting and trust in administrators. Restorative Justice may provide a way to ensure accountability and positive outcomes for all stakeholders. Circle practices can be used for community-building, meaningful dialogues about sexual harm, rewriting cultural narratives about rape and hegemonic masculinity, and developing commitment to prosocial behavior along the stages-of-change continuum. RJ models for adjudication, such as RESTORE (Koss 2013), may provide more healing/educational outcomes than adversarial approaches. Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) are a RJ-practice used for high-risk sex offenders returning to the community for prison (Wilson and McWinnie 2010). This model may be adapted for campuses and could provide community reassurance and better outcomes for key stakeholders.

Guest Bios

dkarpheadshot David Karp is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Project on Restorative Justice at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. His scholarship focuses on restorative justice in community and campus settings and on prison programs preparing inmates for return to the community. He was the recipient of the 2010 Donald D. Gehring Award from the Association for Student Conduct Administration for his work on campus restorative justice. David has published more than 100 academic papers and six books, including The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Colleges and Universities (2013), Wounds That Do Not Bind: Victim-Based Perspectives on the Death Penalty (2006), and The Community Justice Ideal (1999). David is the Principal Investigator of a multi-campus research project on student conduct practices called the STARR Project (STudent Accountability and Restorative Research Project). He has previously served as Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Chair of the Department of Sociology, and Director of the Program in Law and Society. He is also a volunteer mediator and a restorative justice facilitator and trainer. David received a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Washington.


Kaaren-headshot Kaaren Williamsen is the Title IX Coordinator at Swarthmore College. Previously she founded and directed the Carleton College Gender and Sexuality Center. As part of her work in building and leading the center, she created innovative sexual violence prevention programs including peer education, comprehensive sexuality education, men’s groups, survivor support, new student orientation and student-led no-credit courses on healthy sexuality. She also created institutional support services for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, including peer mentor program, support groups, campus education and professional development for faculty and staff. Kaaren also served as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Prevention and was a key member of the Title IX Lead Team at Carleton, which oversaw all efforts toward sexual violence prevention and campus response. In addition, she coordinated and trained the Sexual Misconduct Support Advisers and the Community Board on Sexual Assault which heard sexual misconduct cases. Before moving founding the Gender and Sexuality Center, Kaaren worked in residential life and in LGBT advisor roles at Carleton as well as two other Minnesota colleges and universities. Kaaren earned her B.A. in philosophy with honors from Gustavus Adolphus College, an MS in Women’s Studies from Minnesota State Mankato, and her M.A. in counseling and student personnel psychology from University of Minnesota. She is currently enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s doctoral program in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development working on her dissertation on restorative justice and campus sexual misconduct.