At the University of Sierra Leone, student elections can bring terrible violence. Rock-throwing riots are common. Women students don’t leave their rooms because sexual harassment spikes. Some years, the student body goes without leadership because elections are canceled for the violence.

Students wanted to contribute, to do what they can to change this climate, and they contacted Mediators Beyond Borders for advice. Ginny facilitated a team conducting an assessment of campus peacebuilding needs.

The team explored the root causes of campus aggression and the link to national politics. We convened the heads of student political parties, and they agreed to joint messages of peaceful advocacy. They laid plans for reaching out to national parties to ask them to reconsider how they undermine the peace.

Freetown, Sierra Leone (Collaboration Specialists, 2011)

At the same time, students from all parties, ethnic groups and genders gathered for confict management training. They learned more about each other, and they planned ways to teach these skills throughout the student body. The building blocks are in place for a long-term effort to turn around the campus culture of election violence.