OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
An ombudsperson is guided by the following principles: objectivity, independence, accessibility, confidentiality and justice; justice is pre-eminent.
An ombudsperson hears and investigates complaints objectively. Objectivity includes impartial attention to all available perspectives on an issue and may or may no entail support of any particular perspective.
An ombudsperson acts as independently as possible of all other offices and avoids conflict of interest, external control and either the reality or appearance of being compromised.
An ombudsperson is readily accessible to all students, promotes timely solutions to problems and avoids either the reality or appearance of bias toward any individual or group.
An ombudsperson treats with confidentiality all matters brought to him or her. No action is taken on a complaint without the complainant's permission. Information retained by the ombudsperson is kept secure. However, with the verbal or written permission of the complainant, such information may be carried forward by the ombudsperson.
If a complainant reports a serious problem but is unwilling to be part of any steps taken to address it, an ombudsperson tries to find a way to address the problem that is acceptable to the complainant, or that does not compromise the identity of the complainant.
However, if an individual speaks about intending serious harm to himself or herself or others, or if the complainant confesses to serious misconduct or a crime, an ombudsperson must use personal discretion in determining whether or not this information is carried forward. Discretion is likewise required in regard to matters governed by state and federal law.
An ombudsperson is guided by a concern for the commitment to justice. Justice requires that an individuals interests be carefully balanced with the consideration of the good of the larger academic community. An ombudsperson's commitment to justice includes the understanding of power, identification of the use and misuse of power and authority, and recognition of the need for access to power by the members of the institution.
Other concerns also govern an ombudsperson's conduct. While it is the parties who are responsible for choosing a particular resolution, the ombudsperson attempts to guide them toward options that are fair, conform with institutional policy, and give clear indication of being in their best interest. An ombudsperson remembers, and at all times protects, the right to privacy of all parties, including the alleged offender. An ombudsperson generally does not act on third-party complainants.
An ombudsperson has a responsibility to maintain and improve professional skills, to assist in the development of new practitioners, and to promote impartial dispute resolution in the institution.