Mediation team wins fourth place at international, intercollegiate mediation tournament

November 14, 2013
Carissa Catalano, Evan Seibel, Coach Dr. John Rink, Braden Ganter, Eric Johnson

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville mediation team has once again proven its mediation moxie by winning fourth place in a 40-team field from 25 schools at the 14th Annual Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament held Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. The team reached the tournament semi-final round before being eliminated by defending national champion and tournament host Drake University.

Two UW-Platteville students received individual awards. Eric Johnson, a senior with a double major in criminal justice and political science from Hudson, Wis., and Carissa Catalano, a senior with a double major in criminal justice and Spanish from Clay, N.Y., received Outstanding Mediator awards.

The tournament, sponsored by the International Academy of Dispute Resolution, is held every November to give undergraduate students experience as mediators, attorneys and clients. Previously a national intercollegiate tournament, the event is now international, drawing teams from India and Canada as well as students from China, Korea and Sri Lanka. The National Law Institute, Bhopal, India, won the mediation championship.

“Mediation tournaments provide students with critical hands-on experience in advocacy and dispute resolution,” said Dr. John Rink, professor of political science at UW-Platteville and the team’s coach. “I’m extremely proud of the way our students have consistently risen to the top in every competition—but I’m prouder still of the fact that our students excel at such valuable skills.”

In the competition, each team has three or four members who may play mediator or advocate once during the three preliminary rounds. Another team member must play the advocate’s client. Two weeks before the tournament, teams receive information about the cases they will mediate, but no one knows until thirty minutes before the round which case will be mediated or which side of the case they must represent. At that time, the teams also receive new facts about the case that must be incorporated into their presentation.

Students were judged by practicing professional mediators and attorneys. “The rules require versatility and lots of preparation on the part of every team member,” Rink said.

This year’s cases included a dispute between two neighbors over the way one of the neighbors displayed the American flag and showed his patriotism, an ethnic dispute between a doctor and nurse over how to treat a patient, a child custody dispute, a workplace accident and a dispute involving a car-truck crash that resulted in a fatality.

The Pioneer team that wrestled with these cases included Johnson; Catalano; Braden Ganter, a senior with a double major in political science and English from Cuba City, Wis.; and Evan Seibel, a junior with a double major in criminal justice and political science from Fond du Lac, Wis. 

Before the first round, the students received encouragement from former team member Katie Shanahan, who earned a business degree from UW-Platteville in 2012.  “Katie is now a second year law student at Drake,” said Rink. “At the 2011 tournament, she swept the championship round ballots and led us to the national championship. Her words meant quite a bit to our students in the competition.”

Undergraduate mediation competitions are the brainchild of the former dean of Drake University Law School, Richard M. Caulkins, who also originated intercollegiate mock trial in 1987. The first national intercollegiate mediation tournament took place in 2000 at Drake Law School. That year, UW-Platteville took third place and has participated every year since, winning two national championships (2006 and 2011).  Rink noted that in recent years, Caulkins has organized mediation tournaments in cities all over the world, including Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Bhopal, India; Kiev, Russia; London, England; and Dublin, Ireland.

In October, the UW-Platteville mediation team won a double championship at the 12th Annual Peacemaker Challenge Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament held at UW-Platteville, taking first place as both mediators and as advocates in a 10-team field from six schools.

Contact: Dr. John Rink, department of social sciences, (608) 342-1795,

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191,


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