Why is there an ombudsperson?
In conflicts, the ombudsperson remains equally open and accessible to all parties.Graduate students may serve in many roles during their academic careers such as students, teachers, co-workers, colleagues, employees, or technicians. Varying rules/policies apply for the many roles. As long as the expectations for behavior are understood and accepted by all parties, there is rarely a problem.
However, challenges can arise when there are differing expectations or conflicting policies, or when one group is accused of violating the rules.
The ombudsperson advocates for the processes of graduate education by being equally open and accessible to all parties-students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
When would I need an ombudsperson?
- You have an issue or a concern that you and others cannot resolve, or that you would prefer not to address through formal channels.
- You have a matter to explore “off the record”, or those for which you need informal consultation.
- You have a problem, and are unsure with whom to speak or what options are available to address it.
- You feel that a university policy, procedure, or regulation has been applied unfairly, or is itself unfair or ambiguous.
- You have a problem that requires an outside party to negotiate a solution, or facilitate your communication with others.
- Accessible to all those involved in graduate education and attempts to find timely and satisfactory solutions to problems without bias.
- Treats all matters with confidentiality, although in certain cases, the law may require disclosure of certain information (i.e. subpoena or sexual harassment).
- Governed by a commitment to equity, neutrality, and fairness.
- Direct access to all deans, department heads, directors, faculty members, and students to gather information and investigate issues objectively.
- Helps solve problems informally, in the least intrusive manner possible so as to minimize negative consequences.
- Obligation to bring to administrators’ attention any policies, programs, personnel or institutional decisions which he or she believes violates the rights of students, faculty, or staff.
- Will not participate in any formal grievance processes but will seek to help find solutions prior to the initiation of such procedures.
- Will not take sides.
Typical concerns brought to the ombudsperson
- Academics (grading disputes, testing procedures, instructor/student misunderstandings)
- Conflicts between graduate advisors and their students
- Fiscal matters
- Disagreements/misunderstandings with university policy
- Human or legal rights violations
- Cultural conflicts
- Reporting unethical behavior
- Student conduct
Ombudsperson contact information:
Ombudsperson for Graduate Education
302 Jack K. Williams Administration Building
College Station, TX 77843-1113