FAQs for Undergrads

Since you don’t act as my advocate, how can you help me?

Although we are not advocates, decision makers, or enforcers for individuals or positions, we are advocates for fairness and good communication, which are the key ingredients in effective conflict resolution.  We are trained in helping people reach agreement collaboratively and we use those skills to help you identify and develop options that best work for you.  

If your problem involves university administration or bureaucracy, we can often help you understand what is likely to be important to those reviewing your situation and help you explore options for presenting your concerns so they are likely to be heard and understood.  We may be able to find out helpful information or talk with appropriate individuals to help you to take effective action on your own to resolve a problem.  We can offer coaching, mediation, facilitated dialogues and other informal conflict resolution processes.  If we can’t help directly, we can make an appropriate referral for you.

Will you tell my parents anything about my issues?

The Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits the Ombuds from disclosing academic information about students who are 18 or older to third parties, including parents, unless you give us written permission.  In any case,we do not confirm whether or not you came to the office and will not communicate to parents what was discussed pursuant to our professional confidentiality obligation. 

Can someone else require me to talk with the Ombuds?

No.  Ombuds services are always voluntary and cannot be compelled.  However, if someone suggests the Ombuds Office as a resource for you, you may want to consider speaking to an Ombuds about how to manage the problem that brought about the referral.  Talking to the Ombuds creates no obligations on your part, and could be helpful in finding a resolution.

Will the Ombuds testify for me or hold records for me?

No. The confidentiality of the Ombuds Office belongs to the Ombuds as well as to those who consult with us, and cannot be waived unilaterally by you.  We will not voluntarily testify, serve as a witness, maintain records, or participate in any formal proceeding on campus or in court.  The Ombuds is not authorized to receive legal notice for the University. 

How is the Ombuds different from other student support services on campus?

The Ombuds Office is unique in its adherence to the standards of confidentiality*, neutrality, informality and independence.  We are not aligned with any other office, profession, perspective, or purpose on campus, and we do not take sides or make decisions.