The Role of the Ombudsman

Most Colleges and University’s have an organizational Ombudsman. This is a neutral person charged with the responsibility of resolving disputes. Disputes may be about anything; harassment, course discrimination, essay or exam unfair practices. The person in an Ombudsman’s role must remain an independent and confidential resource above reproach or bias. He or she will step in when the usual channels of enquiry and complaint don’t succeed.

The Ombudsman is obliged to serve the entire college or university community including the faculty, staff and the students. Their job is to help with problem resolution, conflicts and complaints. It is also up to Ombudsman to recognize when new policies, procedures or external influences may present problems and to act to pre-empt any issues. The reasons to choose the Ombudsman as a resource are many and often of a moral or ethical nature, for example when confidentiality is important.

Other reasons include the broad scope, the impartiality and the independence of the office. A person visiting the Ombudsman with a problem is assured that they will be listened to and that their problem will be adequately assessed. The resources of the facility and the wider community can be made available via the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman, if they feel there is just cause, can gather information, investigate and employ all avenues of communication on all levels to achieve a fair outcome.

With or without specific reason it is the role of the Ombudsman to identify problem areas facing faculty, staff and students, and recommend changes to policies and procedures. For any student having trouble with a situation they believe is unfair this is a great resource. Even if the issue has something to do with a personal matter or a concern that is relevant only to you, like a proposal or an application, and you aren’t sure the Ombudsman is the right resource, you won’t be faulted for asking and the office of the Ombudsman will very likely point you in the right direction.