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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an ombudsperson? What do they do?

An ombudsperson is an independent, impartial, informal, and confidential individual who listens to the concerns and conflicts experienced by community members, analyzes the situation, provides information on relevant policies and procedures, and offers advice and connections to the most useful resources.

Who can meet with the ombudsperson?

Students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, the ombudsperson is happy to meet with anyone affiliated with the university, which includes alumni and families.

How can I meet with the ombudsperson?

Meetings are available in-person, virtually through Zoom, and over the phone. Please let us know if you require accommodations when scheduling.

How long will it take to receive a reply or schedule a meeting?

We aim to provide a response to your initial inquiry within 2 business days. Typically, meetings are scheduled within a week.

How do I know if I have a problem that the ombudsperson can assist with?

The ombudsperson deals with a wide range of issues, including but not limited to housing concerns, grade disputes, discrimination, supervisor complaints, retaliation, and tenure tracks. If you are uncertain about which policies or procedures apply to you, feel that you are unfairly treated, need to know who has the authority to make an exception to a rule, or need to know how to make a formal complaint, call to schedule an appointment.

Will my conversations with the ombudsperson be confidential?

Yes, the only cases in which an ombudsperson shares details of your conversation is if we have a concern about an imminent risk or physical harm, or if the visitor discloses an issue we are required to report by law (e.g. child abuse).

Who will know that I spoke with the ombudsperson?

The Office of the Ombudsperson is a confidential office, and we do not disclose who comes to see us, or the content of our conversations (with the very-limited exceptions detailed above).

What can’t the ombudsperson do?

The ombudsperson is impartial and operates informally. Therefore, they cannot advocate in formal processes such as grievance procedures or conduct/participate in investigations. Additionally, the ombudsperson is not authorized to accept formal complaints, but they can direct you to the appropriate individual or office.

What can the ombudsperson do?

Some examples of available services include coaching, strategy development, facilitating communication between individuals or groups in order to resolve conflicts, referrals to individuals and offices with authority and expertise, confidential review of letters and documents for clarity and effectiveness, recommend changes to policies and procedures.