The Office of the Student Ombudsman provides all UNF students with a safe, confidential place to bring questions and concerns about University rules, policies, or procedures. The Ombudsman assists students by considering all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective way, and then advises on how to best resolve the problems.
Confidential – All concerns or information brought to the Ombudsman’s Office will not be shared with anyone else unless granted permission to do so.
Impartial – The Office of the Ombudsman does not advocate for the student or the University. We consider the interests and concerns of all parties involved with the aim of achieving fair and equitable solutions.
Independent – The Office of the Ombudsman operates independently of administrative authorities.
Informal – The power of the Office of the Ombudsman rests in our ability to persuade. We informally investigate student concerns without issuing judgments or decisions. We do not arbitrate, adjudicate, or participate in any internal or external formal process (including legal processes).
If a student believes that the grade they received in a class does not accurately reflect the work they submitted and the level of their participation in a class, the student may pursue a grade appeal. View the regulation pertaining to grade appeals.The Ombudsman’s role in a grade appeal is to work with the student to understand the regulation and its implementation, and to assist in determining what supporting documentation the student may need to produce in order to pursue a grade appeal. Generally the Ombudsman will ask the student to provide a copy of the course syllabus and any graded materials the student has received in order to develop a grade appeal.
Violations of the University’s Academic Integrity policy include cheating, fabrication and falsification, multiple submissions, plagiarism, abuse of academic materials and complicity in academic dishonesty. Students charged with violations of the Academic Integrity policy may appeal this decision and/or associated sanctions according to the remedies provided by the University’s Academic Integrity code.
The Ombudsman can work with students charged with violations of the Academic Integrity policy who feel that they have been falsely charged, or have been given sanctions that are not commensurate with the nature of the violation to appeal these decisions.
Absence for Health-Related and Other Reasons
The University anticipates students will attend classes for which they are registered, but also understands that on occasion unforeseen circumstances, including medical issues, prevent a student from attending a class or classes. It is always the student’s responsibility to discuss absences with their instructors and provide documentation of the reason for absence if requested by the instructor. In situations where the student is not able to notify instructors of an absence due to serious illness or hospitalization, the Ombudsman will notify instructors of the absence based upon the request of the student or a member of his/her immediate family.
View the University attendance policy.
If a student incurs a serious medical condition that prevents him/her from completing the withdrawal process, the student may initiate contact with the Ombudsman or the director of Student Medical Services or Counseling Center as appropriate to request a medical withdrawal. If approved, a medical withdrawal removes the student from his/her classes without grade penalty and may result in a refund of tuition and fees. There are sometimes other consequences to a medical withdrawal -- including impact on current financial aid allocations and eligibility for future financial aid -- which the Ombudsman can discuss with you.
View the Medical Withdrawal Policy.
Students who have withdrawn from classes due to circumstances beyond their control, or feel that the University has made an error in their billing, may submit a Student Fee Petition requesting a refund or reduction in their charges. Fee petitions are available in the Online Forms section of MyWings under the Student tab.
On occasion a denied fee petition may be appealed. The Ombudsman’s role in a fee petition appeal is to assist the student in developing a statement with documentation that supports the initial request with additional new or clarified information. To assist in the development of an appeal the student should provide a copy of the initial petition with all supporting documentation to the Ombudsman for his review, as well as any supporting documentation that clarifies or corroborates the student’s request.
Requests for Waivers of University Policy
Students who feel they have serious extenuating circumstances may submit a petition to waive a University policy. Extenuating circumstances are normally situation-specific and beyond the student’s control and may include but are not limited to:
Completing a petition does not guarantee that a particular policy will be waived. All petitions must include supporting documentation in order to be considered. Petitions are considered exceptions and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
A student seeking to waive University policy should consult with their academic advisor prior to initiating the process which may be started by obtaining a Request for Waiver of University Policy form at either One Stop Student Services or from the Ombudsman. In the case of a request for Personal and Sensitive Issues, the student may speak to the Ombudsman who can document the situation without disseminating specific personal information to other offices and individuals.
In December of 2009 the Board of Governors revised its statute defining the role of the student ombudsman. The revised statute is as follows.
6.011 Student Ombudsman
Authority: Section 7(d), Art. IX, Fla. Const., History: New 12-10-09.
For more information about Ombudsman in the State University System, please see: Florida Board of Governor’s Website, or International Ombudsman Association Website.
Thomas J. Van Schoor
Division of Student Affairs
University of North Florida
1 UNF Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32224
Building 2, Suite 2100, Room 2104
Phone: (904) 620-1491
Fax: (904) 620-2527
Member of the International Ombudsman Association
Copyright © 2012 University of North Florida1 UNF Drive | Jacksonville, FL 32224 | Phone: (904) 620-1000
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