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C24.0 Ombuds Office

I. Mission Statement

  1. To provide impartial, independent, confidential and informal dispute management and resolution resources for members of the RIT community.

  2. To identify and make recommendations to address systemic issues and problematic university policies and procedures that are causing or may cause conflict.

  3. To advocate for fair process, an equitable and positive campus climate and community.

  4. The RIT Ombudsperson and staff of the Ombuds office are guided by the International Ombudsman Association's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

II. The RIT Ombudsperson

The Ombudsperson is a designated neutral and resource person whose services are available to any member of the RIT community. The principal responsibilities and functions of the Ombudsperson are to:

  • Serve as an impartial, independent, informal and confidential conflict management resource for any member of the RIT community, including faculty, staff, students, etc.

  • Facilitate various dispute resolution processes, such as information gathering, informal mediation, negotiation, coaching, problem solving, etc.

  • Serve as a central resource to provide information or guidance to community members on issues of policy, referral, or other matters.

  • Identify problematic and/or recurring issues, policies and procedures and bring those to the attention of those who are authorized to resolve them.

  • Advocate for fair process in the context of a specific situation or case.

  • Advocate for a fair, equitable and positive campus climate and community.

  • Report annually to the RIT community on the activities of the Ombuds office, or as needed.

The Ombudsperson does not:

  • Have administrative decision-making authority, nor the authority to determine guilt or innocence in any matter.

  • Serve as advocate for any party or position in a conflict.

  • Conduct formal investigations.

  • Act as a witness, participate, or testify in any formal grievance, process or legal proceeding.

  • Fill other university roles that could create conflicts of interest in maintaining his/her neutral position.

  • Provide legal advice or psychological counseling, but can refer visitors to on- and off-campus resources.

  • Maintain any official records related to a case or the identity of a community member using the office. The Ombudsperson may maintain statistical data for use in reports and providing feedback.

  • Violate confidentiality except when there is imminent threat to harm one's self or other persons.

The Ombudsperson's scope of service is limited to informal means of conflict resolution. Communication with the Ombudsperson does not constitute formal organizational notification to RIT of alleged violations of policies, procedures or laws. The Ombudsperson can assist community members to explore avenues for resolution including offices where formal notification can occur.

Access to Resources

The Ombudsperson will have access to all members of the university community and all university records and reports (with the exception of medical, psychiatric, and psychological records which will be released only upon a written release signed by the individual whose records are requested).

The Ombudsperson will have access to external, independent expertise and resources.

Reporting Relationships

The Ombudsperson will administratively report to the president of RIT.

III. Staff of the Ombuds Office

The Ombuds office includes a full-time Ombudsperson and a full-time staff assistant. Additional personnel may be added at any time.

IV. Ombuds Office Advisory Board

Role and Responsibilities

The Ombuds Office Advisory Board assists and advises the Ombudsperson on matters such as marketing, training, staffing and other non-confidential activities that support the office in the delivery of services. The board meets at least once each semester and upon the request of the Ombudsperson.

Establishment of the Board

The president will establish the Ombuds Office Advisory Board.

Composition and Term of Appointment

The advisory board includes the following members of the RIT community:

  • One tenured faculty member appointed by Academic Senate

  • One non-tenured faculty member appointed by Academic Senate

  • One exempt staff member appointed by Staff Council

  • One non-exempt staff member appointed by Staff Council

  • One academic administrator appointed by Academic Council

  • One non-academic administrator appointed by Administrative Council

  • Three students appointed by Student Government

  • Ad-hoc members may be added as needed

Faculty, staff, and administrator board members serve a two-year term, but may be reappointed for a second two-year term, at the discretion of the individual, Ombudsperson, board chairperson, and appointing governance group. Student board members serve a one-year term but may serve an additional one-year term at the discretion of the student, student government, the board chairperson and Ombudsperson. Typically, ad-hoc members serve up to a one-year term.

One member of the board will serve as chairperson of the advisory board. The chairperson will be selected by the membership of the board and serve a one-year term. The chair is eligible for reelection unless his/her term as a board member has expired.

Each year the board chairperson will notify the president, provost, chair of the Academic Senate, chair of Staff Council and president of Student Government of the board members whose terms of appointment have expired and request that new appointments be made.

Responsible Office:
Office of the Ombudsperson

Effective Date:
Approved September 1989

Policy History:
Last revised May 9, 2007
Edited September 2010
Edited May 8, 2013, for calendar conversion
Moved to Section C - General Institute Policies, Policy C24.0 - September 22, 2014

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