The ombudsperson provides neutral, confidential and informal complaint handling services for faculty and staff, providing employees with assistance relating to work difficulties such as interpersonal conflict or misunderstandings. In addition, the ombudsperson may assist in providing college and university policy interpretation. Acting as an impartial party, the ombudsperson operates in an advisory capacity, seeking to ensure that all faculty and staff receive fair and equitable treatment. The ombudsperson is not a substitute for seeking help or information through normal college channels.
- listening and discussing questions, concerns and complaints
- assisting in evaluation and possible options
- expanding the number of options available
- explaining college and university policies and procedures
- referring to appropriate individuals and offices
- gathering information on an informal basis
- coaching individuals to resolve problems on their own
- facilitating informal meetings between individuals in conflict
- providing referrals to formal processes if the informal process has been exhausted
- maintaining a confidential record of concern and resolution.
Informal Conciliation Conference
Confidential and informal conciliation conference services are provided by the ombudsperson for situations in which all parties agree to work together for a mediated solution to their conflict. The conciliation conference is voluntary, meaning that all parties must wish to mediate the conflict without coercion from others. The parties are asked to follow conciliation conference ground rules and sign a confidentiality statement to ensure the process is respected and productive.
Participation in a conciliation conference is especially helpful when relationships need repair following an incident or situation occurring in the workplace. A conciliation conference can be especially helpful if the parties anticipate they will have to work together in the future and may provide those concerned with a greater degree of comfort in an awkward or upsetting situation.
Matters and concerns discussed with the ombudsperson will remain confidential to the extent provided by law, and will be shared on a need-to-know basis only. Should the pursuit of an inquiry require the disclosure of information, the individual will be contacted in advance for permission to disclose it.
Conflicts of Interest
In accordance with the University and College Ombuds Association, the ombudsperson will avoid situations which may cause or result in a conflict of interest. Prior to an employee disclosing information, he or she will be made aware of the ombudsperson’s responsibility to report any actions or incidents which may be deemed reportable under law, and also be advised of other duties pertaining to concerns of discrimination or harassment.