An Ombuds is an impartial resource for students, faculty, staff and administrators. The Ombuds’ function is to help visitors to the office find options, in a confidential and informal manner, for addressing concerns, resolving conflicts and handling a variety of institutional issues as they arise.
The Ombuds Office is a place where all are welcome. It supplements, but does not replace, formal college channels for solving problems. Retaliation for visiting the Ombuds is prohibited.
What the Ombuds does
- Facilitates conversations between members of the campus community
- Discusses concerns, helps clarify or prioritize issues and identifies and evaluates options
- Provides coaching as needed (e.g., to help someone prepare for a difficult conversation)
- Gathers information, explains policies and offers referrals to other resources
- Facilitates the resolution of a conflict using mediation and other strategies to achieve fair and mutually beneficial outcomes
- Consults with groups on the development of policies and procedures
- Consults with college officials about broad issues and trends
- Makes recommendations for institutional change, when appropriate
The following are examples of topics a visitor may want to discuss:
- Interpersonal difficulties
- Student life
- A perceived violation of college policy
- Communication problems
- Academic disputes
- Health and safety issues
- Departmental conflict
- Threats or retaliation
- Ethical behavior
- How to frame and discuss issues
- How to make or seek an apology
- How to untangle a complicated situation
- How to access other campus resources
- Formal processes for resolving issues
What the Ombuds does not do
The Ombuds does not make decisions for anyone, serve as an official advocate, offer legal advice, keep official records, participate in formal grievances (or other formal processes), offer psychological counseling or address issues involving persons outside the institution.
The Ombuds does not have the power to establish, change or set aside college rules, policies or management decisions. The Ombuds does not testify in any judicial or administrative proceeding, unless required by law after reasonable attempts at protecting confidentiality have been made.
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