Role of the Ombuds
What does an Ombuds do?
The Ombuds responds to the individual's situation and informed consent. Therefore, we:
- Listen to your concern, which may be the only reason you came in
- Discuss your concerns and help clarify the most important issues to you
- Help identify and evaluate and brainstorm options with respect to academic and non academic issues you may be subject to
- Explain university regulations and policies in easy to understand terms, and offer referrals to other on campus resources if needed
- Serve as a neutral party to help solve problems and resolve conflicts and work to achieve fair outcomes by using mediation and other conflict resolution strategies if needed
- Offer coaching to help you prepare for a difficult conversations with supervisors, administration or instructors or to prepare for upcoming appeals
- Facilitate conversations among parties
- Operate under the code of ethics and standards of practice of the International Ombudsman Association
What we don't do:
- Make decisions for you or for anyone else
- Offer any legal advice or comment on any legal questions
- Offer counseling for you. We can refer you to a counselor.
- Testify in any judicial or administrative proceeding, unless required to by law.
- Serve as a place to put the University on notice regarding the filing of a claim
- Serve as an advocate for any individual or entity
- Entertain non-university related issues
- Assist non-students with issues unrelated to the university
The Ombuds keeps all student information and matters strictly confidential. In short, no one will ever know that you met with and discussed your matter with the Ombuds unless you ask the Ombuds to intervene directly in your matter. Many times individuals find it helpful to explore options and strategies confidentially before taking more formal steps. The Ombuds is easily accessible to voice concerns or ask questions and is an available source of assistance.
The Ombuds helps resolve problems and complaints within the university. The office is neutral and functions independent of the university administration. An Ombuds can be described less as an advocate and more as an advisor in an attempt at achieving fairness and due process for those involved. The Ombuds is non-judgmental, a source of confidential advice, and welcomes all student questions and concerns.
The Ombuds operates informally as the office does not duplicate, but adds to existing processes like procedures for the filing of grievances, faculty administrative hearings, or other formal procedures followed by the university at large. The Ombuds may look into whether proper procedures were followed and bring to the attention of the university administration gaps and/or inadequacies in existing rules and regulations. The Ombuds may attend an appeal but only as an advisor and not as an advocate. The Ombuds is here to insure that your right to procedural fairness and due process is respected.
The Ombuds is directly responsible to the Vice-Provost (Student Experience) and not to any other administrative office. The Ombuds also has an Ombuds Advisory Committee, composed of stakeholder groups on campus, the purpose of which is to ensure that the Ombuds office continues to meet the needs of students. The Ombuds office works hard to merit the trust others place in it.