The ombudsperson assists graduate students and postdocs with resolving conflicts and issues that arise in the course of their education and training that they believe have not or cannot be addressed within their academic department. The ombudsperson can help mediate conflicts and provides information about institutional policies related to the student’s issues, including the University’s grievance procedures. The ombudsperson directs students and postdocs to further resources on campus as appropriate.
Roles of the ombudsperson:
- Listen to graduate student/postdoc concerns.
- Explain University and school policies.
- Explain the grade-appeal process.
- Act as a neutral resource between graduate student/postdoc and a faculty member or an individual with whom the student is experiencing an academic conflict.
- Facilitate communication between and among individuals.
- Counsel faculty to minimize potential conflict.
- Coach graduate students/postdocs on how to talk to faculty and staff.
- Refer individuals to others as appropriate.
- Act as an informal resource to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff.
- Keep information confidential except as required by law or university policy, which includes Title IX issues.
- Work with graduate students/postdocs from another school if a graduate student/postdoc wants to talk to an ombudsperson from a different school. In these situations, the graduate student/postdoc should realize that the ombudsperson will not be familiar with their school/program policies.
The ombudsperson does not:
- Change grades.
- Change policies.
- Take sides, but rather tries to facilitate a mutual understanding between differing points of view.
- Identify individuals without permission, except as required by law or university policy, which includes Title IX issues.
- Take part in formal grievance processes.