Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions of the Ombuds Office. We encourage all interested individuals to contact us with any questions or concerns about the office.
Who can contact the Ombuds Office?
University students, administrators, faculty, and staff can contact the Ombuds regarding their campus related concerns. We encourage visitors to schedule an appointment, however may drop-in during normally scheduled office hours. Contact Joe Johnston, Ombuds, at 475-7357 or Ashley Meyer, Associate Ombuds, at 475.6424 by phone or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want individuals to feel comfortable when they visit the office. Depending on circumstances and willingness or all parties, visitors can bring guests. This option can also be discussed at the time of the visitor's initial contact with the office.
Are all conversations with the Ombuds Office confidential?
Conversations with our office are considered confidential, and we will not disclose any part of your conversation without your permission. However, confidentiality cannot be promised if there is imminent risk of serious harm, threats to public safety, or if compelled by a court of law. We do not maintain identifying records. We are not an office of record. Speaking to anyone in the Ombuds Office does not constitute legal notice to the University that a problem, concern, or complaint exists. You must pursue alternative complaint avenues if you wish to obligate the University to respond in any way.
How is the Ombuds Office different than other conflict management offices and resources?
The Ombuds Office is always an informal option. Other conflict resolution offices may require a formal process. Our services are visitor initiated. All processes and strategies are used at the discretion of the visitor. The Ombuds Office is independent of all other University offices and decision-making practices. Our Office does not make administrative decisions and does not have authority to change disciplinary action. If you aren’t sure where to take your concern, the Ombuds is a safe place to start.
Who does the Ombuds report to?
The University Ombuds Office is independent of ordinary line and staff structures and exercises autonomy regarding its responsibilities.
When are other resources more effective?
We will listen to your concerns and make you aware of all of your options and resources. If your concern requires a formal process or specialist to assist you, we will help refer you to another office.
What if the informal process does not work?
You are not precluded from pursuing formal remedies if informal approaches through the Ombuds Office do not work. We can refer you to your formal options if necessary.
What is mediation?
Sometimes the most effective way to resolve a conflict is to bring two parties together, with a third party to facilitate an effective and productive dialogue. Mediation is a process using a neutral party who is trained to facilitate the resolution of a conflict. Mediators assist in the clarification of issues and the generation of options for resolution. Mediators help parties reach their own agreement and do not make a decision regarding the outcome of a dispute. In order for mediation to be effective, parties must be willing to be active participants in the process. Mediation through the Ombuds Office is informal. Informal mediation is voluntary and related agreements are non-binding.