What is an “Ombudsperson”?
(Ombuds, Ombudsman, Ombudsperson)
An Ombudsperson is a designated neutral who provides advice and information, and works in a confidential, informal way to achieve conflict resolution. The College Ombudsperson is independent of the formal administrative structure of the college, and will consider all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective manner. The Ombudsperson cannot participate in any formal investigations or hearings, and cannot provide legal advice, but will identify options and strategies for the resolution of conflicts.
Additional information regarding the standards of practice for university and college ombudspersons can be obtained at The International Ombudsman Association (IOA)
Who do we serve?
The Office of the Ombuds serves the entire Grinnell College Campus Community – faculty, staff, students, and administrators.
What does the Ombudsperson do?
The Ombudsperson provides an opportunity for informal discussion of problems outside formal channels. The Ombudsperson listens, discusses, answers questions, provides information, and helps develop options for resolving issues. The office provides a means of conflict resolution that is non-confrontational, impartial, informal, and confidential. The ombudsman cannot impose solutions, but identifies options and strategies for resolution. Contacting the Ombudsperson does not constitute official notice to the College.
The Ombudsperson will do the following:
- listen to you
- answer your questions
- analyze your situation
- explain college policies and procedures
- provide information and advice
- develop options
- suggest appropriate referrals
- assist you in pursing a resolution
- conduct mediations
- provide conflict management trainings
- apprise administration of significant trends
- recommend changes in policies and procedures
The Ombudsperson does not do the following:
- conduct formal investigations
- change rules, policies, or procedures
- participate in any formal hearing or grievance process
- supersede the authority of other college officials
- disclose, and may not be required to disclose information provided in confidence, except to address an imminent risk of serious harm where there is no other responsible option
- engage in any activity that might be perceived by others as advocacy for any individual
- serve as an agent of "notice" for the college.
Common Concerns brought to the Ombudsperson include:
- academic honesty
- disciplinary matters
- sexual assault
- cultural conflicts
- grade appeal procedures
- financial concerns
- student life issues
- supervisor/employee relations
- privacy issues
- roommate concerns
- workplace issues
- unethical behavior
- interpersonal communications
- and many others
Training and Presentations
The Ombuds Office provides workshops to develop effective conflict resolution and conflict prevention strategies. To support and improve institutional processes, the office provides a variety of trainings throughout the academic year, and works with individual departments to develop training programs tailored to the needs and desired goals of the department. Additionally, the Ombuds is available to educate the campus community on the role of the Ombuds Office at Grinnell College.
The Ombuds Office is available to facilitate difficult conversations, and will work with individuals or groups to problem solve and enhance communication skills.
The Ombuds Office offers mediation assistance to groups and individuals embroiled in conflict