Frequently Asked Questions

About the Ombuds Office

The original word "ombudsman" has Scandinavian origins, and was first used as a public office in Sweden. According to one scholar, the term refers to "a person who has an ear to the people." The Ombuds office is neutral, independent and confidential department that considers all sides in an impartial and objective way in order to resolve problems and concern raised by members of the university community.

Under our charter, the Ombuds Office reports to the Office of the Provost for administrative and budgetary purposes only and functions independently with respect to case handling and issue management. The Office of the Provost supports the independence of the Ombuds Office.

The name of the person requesting help can only be used in the investigation of the matter with the visitor's permission. Contact and communication with the office are also confidential. The Ombuds Office does not keep records on behalf of the university.  

We use a HIPAA compliant version of Zoom.

We prefer to limit email communication with visitors.


What to expect

For many problems, a normal procedure or route of appeal is set out in university policies and procedures. Academic advisors, department chairpersons, deans and directors are all, by virtue of their office, experts at handling specific types of problems, and should normally be consulted first.

If you don't know whether there is a procedure that fits your situation or have a reason for not wanting to go through official channels, contact the Ombuds Office first.

Meetings are generally scheduled for 60 minutes, 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.

We are still available to meet with visitors on Zoom. If preferred we can also meet with people in-person, with masks.

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.

No. The Ombuds does not take sides in a dispute. As we potentially serve as everyone’s Ombuds, we approach each issue with the lens of impartiality. We do not advocate for individuals nor do we decide who's "right" or "wrong." When helping a visitor to the Ombuds we support them as they weigh their options, and the interests and rights of each individual involved in the problem are carefully considered. The Ombuds aim is always to support and promote a fair, balanced and civil process to effectively resolve the issues raised. 

Examples of areas of concern

  • Course and instructor concerns
  • Conflict with a peer - roommate or fellow student
  • Faculty advisor/advisee issues
  • Other interpersonal or educational concerns
  • Policy consultation, e.g., grade appeal, academic misconduct, course repeat.
  • Discrimination or harrassment
  • Bullying or retaliation
  • University policy consultation
  • Conflict with a colleague or administration
  • Career or tenure progression concerns
  • Consult regarding a student situation.
  • Discrimination or harrassment
  • Bullying or retaliation
  • Work environment concerns
  • Conflict with a co-worker or supervisor
  • University policy consultation - e.g. leave, disciplinary action, 
  • Referrals
  • Discrimination or harrassment
  • Bullying or retaliation