The Office the Ombuds practices to the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the International Ombudsman Association with the full support of the university administration. Use of the Office of the Ombuds is voluntary and cannot be required.
- Strict confidentiality is essential to the ombuds function and helps create a safe place for visitors to voice concerns, evaluate issues and identify options.
- The ombuds does not disclose the identity of visitors to the office or the content of conversations unless permission has been given to do so.
- If a visitor has given permission to do so, the ombuds may disclose information to other offices or individuals whose help is necessary to explore or resolve a problem.
- Even with the permission of the visitor, the ombuds will neither disclose documents nor testify, attend or participate in formal proceedings.
- The university will make every effort to protect the confidentiality of the office. The university will not ask the ombuds to testify on the university’s behalf in internal or external proceedings, and it will take appropriate steps to protect the ombuds from subpoena by others.
- The only exceptions to confidentiality arise when there appears to be an imminent risk of serious physical harm or when a court orders disclosure of information despite the university’s efforts to maintain the confidentiality of communications with the ombuds office.
- The office functions outside existing administrative structure and reports to higher administration* for budgetary and administrative purposes only.
- The ombuds neither compels other offices to take specific action nor receives compulsory orders about how to approach a particular issue.
- The office complements other informal and formal campus resources and does not replace or duplicate them or their processes.
- The ombuds has no authority to establish, change or set aside any university rule or policy nor may the ombuds override the decisions of university officials.
- The ombuds has access to all university officials and records as needed to carry out the functions of the office.
- The ombuds takes all steps to avoid conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived.
- The ombuds seeks to provide objective assessments of concerns brought to the ombuds office.
- Maintaining a neutral position, the ombuds is an advocate for equity, fair process and the fair administration of process. The ombuds does not, however, take sides on behalf of any individual, cause or dispute.
- The ombuds takes into consideration the rights of all parties, as well as the welfare of the university and university community.
- The ombuds provides informal, off-the-record assistance only.
- A visitor’s confidential disclosure to the ombuds does not constitute notice to the university of any claims a visitor may have; any concerns about the university’s compliance with laws, regulations or policies; or any questionable practices at the university. Moreover, such conversations do not suspend or extend any time limits by which notice of claims must be provided to the university.
- The ombuds has no authority to accept legal notice or make decisions on behalf of the university. For those wishing to go on record, the ombuds makes referrals to appropriate formal channels so that visitors may make informed choices about which process is best for them to pursue.
- The ombuds may request data from and explore a concern with university officials; however, the ombuds does not conduct formal investigations or participate in formal actions. The following are also outside the purview of the office:
- Adjudicating cases
- Acting as an advocate or witness in any case inside or outside the university
- Keeping case records for the university
- Assessing wrongdoing or innocence
- Determining sanctions
- Making, changing, or setting aside any rule, policy or administrative decision