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Law students to mediate off-campus conflicts

Wake Forest University students living off campus have had an uneasy relationship for years with long-time residents who live around the university. Residents have complained about all-night parties, loud music, parking on front lawns and discarded cups and beer bottles littering their property.

Many of those complaints resulted in judicial hearings at Wake Forest or trips to the local courthouse.

But city administrators have partnered with Wake Forest University School of Law on a new conflict resolution program that will help residents and students hash out their problems civilly.

“I think it is positive,” said Council member D.D. Adams, who represents the North Ward, which includes Wake Forest University and some of the neighborhoods surrounding the school. “I think it can’t be but a win-win.”

The idea of a conflict resolution program came out of the College Advisory Board, which is part of the city’s human relations department. The board is made up of students from Wake Forest, Winston-Salem State University, Salem College and Forsyth Technical Community College, said Wanda Allen-Abraha, the director of the city’s human relations department.

It took about two years to work out the details of how the program would work, officials said. The program would use students from Wake Forest University School of Law who are trained in mediation. When a complaint is filed, one of the law students will set up a meeting with both parties and guide them toward a resolution, said Beth Hopkins, director of outreach at the law school.

That doesn’t mean that a resolution is guaranteed, and it doesn’t prevent either party from seeking legal action, Hopkins said.

“If we can’t get the parties to agree to a resolution, we’ve at least tried,” she said.

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