Four principles guide the work of the Ombuds: Confidentiality, Independence, Neutrality, and Informality. These principles are defined in the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics (PDF).
The Grinnell College Ombuds holds all communications in strict confidence and takes all reasonable steps to safeguard confidentiality. The Ombuds will not answer questions about people with whom the Ombuds may have spoken, or disclose an individual’s name or specific issue, with anyone outside of the Ombuds Office, unless during the course of discussions with a visitor, the Ombuds is given permission to do so for the purpose of informal conflict resolution, and if the Ombuds also agrees to attempt informal resolution. The only exception to this pledge of confidentiality is where the Ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm.
The Grinnell Ombuds Office is independent in structure, function, and appearance, and reports to the President for administrative purposes.
The Grinnell Ombuds Office is impartial and does not represent individuals on either side of a conflict, though the office does advocate for fairness throughout the College.
The services of the Grinnell Ombuds Office are informal. The office tries to help visitors resolve conflicts as early as possible and at the lowest possible level. Communication to the Ombuds Office or the Ombuds does not constitute notice to the College of any legal or administrative claim an individual may have, since the purpose of the Ombuds Office is to provide a confidential and informal forum where different options may be considered.
The office does NOT:
- Maintain formal written records.
- Conduct formal investigations.
- Play any role in formal hearing, grievance, complaint, appeal, or legal proceedings.
Because of the confidentiality and informality of the office, the Ombuds office will not provide notes and/or testimony in a formal process even if requested to do so by a visitor.