Fostering Online Community: RJ Fellows go virtual this spring!

While social distancing presented all kinds of challenges for gathering, the Restorative Justice Fellows adapted their efforts this spring with zoom circles for students to build community, for a RJ house course, and for a variety of their own projects in and outside of Duke. Check out the returning and new fellows below who will be circling up online this semester.


Returning Fellows include:


Headshot of Ale

Ale Gomez
Ale is a senior from Miami, FL. She is studying Public Policy and Education with plans to teach after graduation (in Durham hopefully!) before doing a master’s in education policy. She’s interested in restorative justice work because she’s used it in classroom settings. This semester she’ll be working with other RJ Fellows to supports students at the North Carolina School of Science and Math interested in bringing RJ to their school.



Ali Hurst
Ali is a junior from Dallas, TX, studying Biology and African American Studies, with hopes of attending law school and working in criminal justice reform.. This semester she’ll working with other RJ Fellows to introduce a series of “teach-ins” on the history and possibility of RJ in education, criminal justice and our everyday lives. When she isn’t doing schoolwork or participating in campus organizations, Ali likes to read, hike, and listen to music.


Arya Patel
Arya is a junior from Charlotte, North Carolina studying Public Policy and Economics. She has participated in various Kenan programs that have integrated Restorative elements including the Focus Program, the Kenan Refugee Project, and Project Change. Arya is particularly interested in Restorative Justice because of the power it has to strengthen communities through an inclusive and humanistic approach. Arya would like to apply restorative practices in her daily life to strengthen her relationships and communications skills. Professionally, Arya hopes to apply restorative practices in her future career in international development and peace and security to elevate marginalized voices and help create equitable policies.


Headshot of Chris


Chris Klasson
Chris is a senior from Rome, GA. He is a history major with chemistry and biology minors , with aspirations to be a physician. He is interested in the ways that the humanities can be included in spaces they are traditionally not addressed, such as medicine, to emphasize the importance of community through shared experiences and empathy. He has used restorative justice for community building in his organizations, and teaches a course that introduces Duke students to restorative practices and principles from both an intellectual stand point and personal perspective to incorporate into their own lives.



And introducing new Fellows:


Cydney Livingston
Cydney is a junior from Wadesboro, North Carolina. She is majoring in biology and history with interests in pursuing graduate work in the history of science, technology, and medicine. Cydney writes for Duke’s Research and serves as a peer advisor. She is interested in restorative justice because it provides a rare means to create vulnerable, connectives spaces that foster community and the ability to speak one’s unfiltered truth. Cydney believes this sort of committed listening and intentional reflection and introspection is critical to address intergenerational harms, confront institutionalized inequities, and provide bridges between seemingly disparate peoples. She hopes to make RJ more accessible on Duke’s campus and within the Durham community to address self-identified areas of need. In her free time, Cydney likes to enjoy nature, read, write, and spend quality time with friends and family.



Dominik Unger
Dominik is a junior from Luxembourg. He is majoring in Public Policy with a minor in Economics and certificate in Markets & Management. After being introduced to Restorative Justice through the House Course in a previous semester, Dominik became aware of the opportunities in which RJ could be used. He is particularly interested in applying RJ practices in spaces where they traditionally have not been used such as Family and Relationship Dynamics. He hopes to use Restorative Justice to build community in the organizations he is involved with on campus.



Kathryn Silberstein
Kathryn is a senior from Delray Beach, Florida, and she is majoring in neuroscience with minors in biology and global health. Kathryn was first introduced to restorative justice in a workshop for the student-led Sexual Assault Prevention Team on campus, and is enthusiastic about how restorative practices can be used across many spheres on campus. As a student in the Restorative Justice housecourse, Kathryn was inspired by how restorative practices foster authenticity and genuine human relationships, even in the absence of face-to-face contact.


Yvonne Bonsu
Yvonne is a first-year student from the Bronx. She is currently undecided, but has interests in social justice, Black leadership, and community engagement. She has a vested passion in restorative justice because constant harm has been done to people, and students of color in specific. Black and brown students deserve a space where they can be heard and open up in ways they aren’t usually able to. Through her work at Harlem Youth Court, she gained skills on circle keeping which she used in her high school’s Fairness Committee as an outlet to avoid rising suspension and detention rates. Restorative justice is about restoring harm done and creating community after wrongdoing takes place. She plans to raise awareness about the usability of RJ in racial spaces so that as a community, people of color can begin to unpack and heal some of the trauma they hold.



What is RJ?

Restorative Justice is an ethical framework based on the fundamental premise that people are happier, more cooperative, more productive and more likely to make positive changes when they work with others in authority to address concerns. The restorative practices model provides a guiding philosophy to foster community that proactively builds positive relationships, creates shared values, and manages conflict by acknowledging and repairing harms. In so doing, social wellbeing, belonging and civic participation increases while misbehavior, harassment and violence decreases—such outcomes have been well documented in K-12 and criminal justice settings and suggest similar results would be seen in other settings like university campuses.