Dealing with disputes in your society

Need help on how to resolve conflict in your club or society? The SRC has some basic advice on how to mediate disputes and bring back harmony to your society.

DEALING WITH PROBLEMS

We recommend that your club or society has a clear procedure for dealing with any problems that may arise, and that your members know where to find these procedures.  If anything does go wrong, it will be much easier to deal with than trying to make up the rules on the spot.  Remember that the SRC cannot arbitrate or judge disputes, however you can use our Advice Centre for general advice.

It is up to your club or society to decide what your procedures will look like, but we have developed some pointers for you to consider.  Bear in mind the size of your club/society and the resources available to you. What is appropriate for one club may not be for another.

We recommend you keep things simple and avoid overly formal or legalistic language in any of your policies or procedures.

 

  1. ADDING A COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE TO YOUR CONSTITUTION
  • Who will deal with complaints about the club?  Will it be the President, the executive, or a small sub-committee?
  • Consider whether you want complaints to be made in writing and how quickly you will realistically aim to deal with them.
  • Do you want to have a single stage complaints procedure, or the possibility for review by someone else within the club, if the complainant isn’t satisfied?  We would recommend no more than two stages.
  • Consider confidentiality and how long records will be kept, and where they will be kept.
  • Consider how you might use any complaints to make your club or society better in the future.
  1. CODE OF CONDUCT/DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE
  • Consider what standards of behaviour you can reasonably expect of your members and office-bearers.  (Examples might include:  treating each other with respect, adhering to the Equality policy, not acting in conflict with the interests of the club or bringing the club into disrepute).  How will you communicate this to them?
  • Consider how you might deal with minor matters in an informal way.
  • Who will deal with matters where a member has breached expectations (e.g. the President, the executive, or a small sub-committee)?
  • How will you ensure that the person undergoing the procedure is properly informed and has the right to state his/her case?
  • Consider what sanctions might be available (e.g. a request to apologise, to stop certain behaviour, suspension from the club for a period of time, or expulsion for the most serious cases).
  • Consider whether you wish to provide a right of appeal (this would need to go to someone within the club who was not involved in the original decision).

 

Contacts

In some cases, the problematic behaviour may constitute a breach of the University’s Code of Student Conduct.  In these cases, the University may be better placed to deal with the matter.

If bullying or harassment is an issue, then it’s helpful to be aware of the University’s Dignity at Work and Study policy, and the Harassment Volunteer Network.