Are you experiencing a complex problem or issue that seems too difficult to address? Are you not sure where to start? Consider talking to the Graduate Student Ombudsman.
What is an ombudsman?
An ombudsman is a neutral party that hears concerns confidentially*. The Ombudsman's goal is to stop problems before they become difficult issues. The Ombudsman will listen to a student's concerns and provide confidential advice, when appropriate, which may include referring students to existing resources. Any interactions are considered informal and not part of an established University process.
How does an ombudsman work within University policy?
The goal of the Ombudsman is to advocate for clear, fair policies and processes, while problem-solving with students. The Ombudsman does not take sides but will point out gaps in the process to University administration. Meeting with the Ombudsman does not replace existing University processes, such as grievance or appeals, however, when a particular process is confusing or becomes bogged-down, the ombudsperson may be able to clarify or assist the student.
When should a student contact the Ombudsperson?
Students should contact the ombudsman as soon as a concern develops. Concerns can include almost any issue arising within the university setting, including personal and academic concerns.
Examples of issues that might come to the ombudsman:
- Miscommunication between an advisor and a student
- A policy interpretation that resulted in an unintended consequence
- Financial distress
- A student considering withdrawal or leave
- Personal or family problems that are impacting a student's performance
Once a problem has entered a formal University process, it is more difficult for the Ombudsman to advise a student.
How do I contact the graduate student Ombudsman?
Discussions with the ombudsman are kept confidential, to the extent possible. Appointments can be arranged directly by contacting Dr. Bruce Taylor, Graduate Student Ombudsman.
*Confidentiality cannot be promised in matters relating to threats to self or others, child abuse, or other illegal activity.