Frequently Asked Questions
This office is available to support students’ opportunity for success. The SOO provides students with an informal, neutral, safe, and confidential place to share concerns or questions, to consider multiple perspectives of an issue, and to explore options for informal resolution.
The SOO primarily serves currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students. We can also assist faculty, staff, alumni, previously enrolled students and parents with questions about student-related concerns. The information we can provide about students is limited based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- You would like to talk confidentially about a situation
- You need help communicating with someone with the University
- You are unsure of the policies or procedures that apply to your specific problem or issue
- You would like to know what resources or options are available
- You want information about how to file a complaint, appeal, or grievance
- You feel a policy or procedure is not being followed properly
- You are not sure where else to turn for help
- Confidentiality means that you are free to discuss concerns related to classes, professors, other students, other administrators, departments, etc. without that information leaving the office. However, there are legal exceptions and University policies that occasionally require staff members to break confidentiality. These primarily entail imminent risk of harm to yourself, others, or a perceived threat to the University. Staff members will make every effort to inform you if your case is likely to require a breach of confidentiality. With that being said, rarely does the SOO need to break the confidentiality of a student.
- Confidentiality is a fundamental element of the Ombuds Program. As such, the Ombuds Program is not authorized to accept notice of allegations of violations of law or other formal complaints. The Ombuds Program treats all communications, and the identities of all visitors, as strictly confidential to the maximum extent permitted by law unless, in the discretion of the Ombuds, failure to disclose information would create an imminent risk of serious harm. No employee or other University constituent may compel the Ombuds Program to disclose information.
- Provide a respectful and comfortable environment for conversation
- Listen to your questions, concerns, and complaints
- Help gather information about potential options and appropriate resources
- Suggest connecting with individuals or offices with expertise in a specific area
- Clarify university policy and procedure
- Address questions concerning appropriate academic or administrative channels
- Open avenues of communication
- Share information about how to file a formal complaint, appeal, or grievance
- Track trends and common areas of concern
No, the Student Ombuds does not take sides. Because one of the SOO’s core operating principles is neutrality, the ombuds is not a student advocate. The ombuds works to evaluate an issue from all sides and to explore solutions in an impartial manner in effort to find a satisfactory resolution to the concern.
Due to our informal and impartial role we do not advocate for or represent any individual or group, nor do we accompany visitors in meetings or proceedings or attend meetings/proceedings as a neutral witness. We can, however, provide consultation and coaching on effective communication and conflict management strategies as you prepare for the meeting, and/or provide confidential and informal mediation/facilitation at the meeting if all parties are in agreement.
SOO does not maintain any permanent records. In accordance with Ombuds ethics and standards of practice, only non-identifying statistical information and trends are reported, which help to inform positive change efforts including improvements to university policies and practices.
No. The SOO is an informal resource. The goal is that the informal process can address the concerns before it goes through the formal grievance process or is addressed by an attorney.
The SOO is structurally located in the Office of Equity and Inclusion in Building 19, yet it functions independently. The Ombuds and Deputy Ombuds can meet students at another location if confidentiality is a concern.