The days are growing longer and warmer. Fields are becoming filled with frisbees, Spikeball nets, hammocks and dogs on leashes. The sun streams through the windows of the testing center as nervous students rack their brains to recall information for their finals.

Winter semester is coming to an end. Spring semester will soon begin, but amidst the busy schedule of finishing school, students are frantically getting ready for clean checks.

For some students, the sudden demand for apartment cleanliness can stir up conflict among roommates. You’ve kept quiet about the mess during the semester, but now it’s a matter of impressing management and avoiding additional charges. Tension begins to build as the kitchen sink becomes the burning ember of annoyance, and roommates are faced with a deeper challenge — ending the semester in peace.

Student participating in facilitator training

Student participating in facilitator training. Photo credit: Emily Ormston

Students taking Comm 150 or Peace 101 learn that the definition of conflict is “an expressed struggle between two or more interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals and/or scarce resources and interference from the other party in achieving their goals.”

Note that conflict is defined as an “expressed struggle,” meaning that both parties must be aware of the conflict through expression. Roommates may not be aware of the aggravation that the filled sink is causing. The conflict may be one-sided without regard for communication.

In March, Chad Ford, a visiting professor of intercultural peacebuilding, talked to students about navigating relationships using peace and conflict resolution.

Chad Ford training students to facilitate his "Dangerous Love" workshop

Chad Ford training students to facilitate his "Dangerous Love" workshop. Photo credit: Emily Ormston

“Roommates is a challenge for sure,” Ford said in an interview when asked which conflicts were typically most common for university students.

He emphasized trying and learning to build perspectives of understanding.

“Most of the time that we’re in conflict, we are not intentionally trying to hurt the other person. We’re not consciously going out and trying to terrorize or torture and make somebody’s life miserable. We’re often quite surprised when our behavior, our actions are taken the way they are by someone else,” Ford said. “I do tend to think that you are trying to intentionally hurt me or to offend me, so we’ve got to let that go and really become curious.”

Ford has lots of experience in directing and leading conflict workshops, generally known as the “Dangerous Love Workshop,” — a title based on his book, “Dangerous Love” — that seeks to help people develop skills to mediate their own conflicts. He explained that the workshop includes interactive games that help participants to experience hands-on learning.

“When people get up and start moving, they activate the kind of creative parts of our brain that do our creative thinking,” Ford said. “One definition that I use in the book is that it’s our inability to collaboratively solve problems.”

Carly Amon in facilitator training

Carly Amon in facilitator training. Photo credit: Emily Ormston

Ford’s workshops were brought to campus by graduating communication major Carly Amon, which readers can learn more about here. Students were trained by Ford himself during his visit to BYU-Idaho.

“One of the things that I think is really cool about BYUIdaho is they’re starting to train students in conflict resolution,” Ford said. “Always the first attempts are ‘let’s try this in my own life with my own challenges,’ but I see a growing number of students that want to take those skills to go help other people.”

Emeline Franks roleplaying teaching methods in workshop.

Emeline Franks roleplaying teaching methods in workshop. Photo credit: Emily Ormston

Students Hannah Martinez, Emeline Franks, Michael Austin and Elnora Adams are members of the Peacebuilding Society on campus, and some of those very students with a desire to help other people in conflict.

“We all have conflict with someone, and we all need to learn this lesson that conflict isn’t something that’s bad. It’s something that we can transform to make into a peaceful environment to change any relationship from a bad one to a good one,” Franks said.

Tim Smith, a student who attended Ford’s workshop and took Peace 101 commented on the need in society to start building peace on a small scale through individuals and families.

“President Nelson gave the call for peacebuilders. It’s very easy to blame everybody because then we feel better. We feel like we’re not doing something wrong,” Smith said. “We have to be that person to see other people as people. Peace is not just eliminating violence or a passive thing. It’s something we have to be actively working towards if you want to achieve it.”

Facilitator training

Facilitator training. Photo credit: Emily Ormston

Ford testified that not only studying peace and peacemaking but implementing those principles and practices into his personal life has brought him closer to Jesus Christ.

“As the Prince of Peace, one of the virtues that He extols in the New Testament is ‘blessed are the peacemakers,’” Ford said. “Jesus does this a lot, especially in the New Testament, where you see Him bringing people together in conflict and making peace.”

Students are encouraged to keep perspective and seek peace in their relationships with friends, spouses or roommates as they end this semester and look forward to navigating their next.