Frequently Asked Questions
Who can use the services of the Staff Ombuds?
The Office of the Staff Ombuds primarily serves staff and postdocs.
Why go to the Office of the Staff Ombuds?
- You would like to talk confidentially about a situation
- You need help communicating with someone with the University
- You are unsure of the policies or procedures that apply to your specific problem or issue
- You would like to know what resources or options are available
- You want information about how to file a complaint, appeal, or grievance
- You feel a policy or procedure is not being followed properly
- You are not sure where else to turn for help
What We Can Do
- Listen to concerns, problems, and dispute
- Provide referrals
- Explain relevant policies and procedures
- Facilitate communication or dialogue
- Help with bureaucracy
- Review options and explore solutions
- Recommend changes to university policy and procedures to University officials.
- Report trends back to the University
- Aid in developing communication skills
- Provide other conflict resolution services
What We Cannot Do
- Take sides or determine outcomes for a case
- Participate in legal procedures or formal processes
- Conduct investigations
- Accept formal grievances
- Make decisions or mandate changes to policy
- Tell people what they should do
What should I expect in a meeting? Do I need to bring anything?
All meetings are scheduled for an hour, whether you end up requiring the full amount of time or not. We will spend a brief amount of time explaining our role and then you are free to talk about your presenting concern(s). After you have finished discussing the situation, we will begin working with you to generate possible options, informing you of relevant polices/procedures, and making necessary referrals. You do not need to bring anything, but if you have documents (contract, email exchanges, etc.) that you think are pertinent to your concern, you are welcome to bring them. We will return those documents back to you at the end of the meeting since we do not keep records.
What does “confidential” really mean?
Confidentiality within the Staff Ombuds Office means that you are free to discuss concerns without that information leaving the office. However, there are legal exceptions and University policies that occasionally require the Staff Ombuds to break confidentiality. These primarily entail a serious risk of imminent harm to yourself, others, or a perceived threat to the University. The Staff Ombuds will make every effort to inform you if your case is likely to require a breach of confidentiality. With that being said, rarely does the office need to break the confidentiality of a visitor.
Are you a staff advocate?
No, we do not take sides. Because one of our core operating principles is neutrality, we are not staff advocates. However, we are also not advocates for the University or any other related party. Our office works to evaluate an issue from all sides and to explore solutions in an impartial manner in effort to find a satisfactory resolution to the concern.