The Office of the Student Ombuds provides all UNF students with a safe, confidential place to bring questions and concerns about University rules, policies, or procedures. The Ombuds 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.
The Ombuds Office is
Confidential – All concerns or information brought to the Ombuds' Office will not be shared with anyone else unless granted permission to do so or otherwise required by law.
Impartial – The Office of the Ombuds 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 Ombuds operates independently of administrative authorities.
Informal – The power of the Office of the Ombuds 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).
Students commonly consult with the Ombuds for
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 following One-Stop Student Services link outlines this process for you.The Ombuds' 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 Ombuds 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 Ombuds 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 Ombuds 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.
Health Related Issues
If a student incurs a serious medical condition that prevents him/her from completing the withdrawal process, the student may initiate contact with the Ombuds or the Director of Student Health 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 Ombuds can discuss with you.
View the Medical Withdrawal Policy.
Retrieve the Medical Withdrawal Application Form (Physical Illness). Forms must be submitted to the Director of Student Health Services.
To receive the Psychological related Medical Withdrawal Forms, students are encouraged to meet with the Associate Director of the Counseling Center, Dr. Michael Malec. Students may contact the Counseling Center to make an appointment with him by calling (904) 620-2602.
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 Ombuds’ 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 Ombuds for his review, as well as any supporting documentation that clarifies or corroborates the student’s request. For more information regarding Fee Petitions please review the Controller's Website.
Student Petition of Academic Policy
Students who feel they have serious extenuating circumstances may submit a petition of academic policy in an effort to receive an exemption or have a policy waived. Extenuating circumstances are normally situation
-specific and beyond the student’s control and may include but are not limited to:
- Call to active duty
- Death in immediate family
- Incapacitating illness
- University-based administrative issues
- Personal and sensitive issues
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 petition an academic policy should consult with their academic adviser prior to initiating the process. The Student Petition of Academic Policy form is located on the One-Stop Student Services website. In the case of a request for Personal and Sensitive Issues, the student may speak to the Ombuds who can document the situation without disseminating specific personal information to other offices and individuals.
University Based Complaints
Students are encouraged to resolve university concerns by contacting the campus office responsible for the area relevant to the complaint. If dissatisfied with the response, the student may contact the relevant area supervisor, director, department chair, or dean for resolution. The Ombuds' role is to serve as a resource and designated neutral party for those who may have a college-related concern or grievance. The Ombuds does not impose solutions, but does identify options and strategies for resolution by providing contact with appropriate college resources or serving as a mediator, among other roles.
Florida Board of Governors Information about Ombudsmen in the State University System
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
- Each university shall establish and maintain a student ombudsman function.
- The ombudsman shall not advocate for any individual, but shall advocate for fair and equitably administered processes and shall facilitate discussion to identify best options to resolve problems. A student’s use of the ombudsman is voluntary and shall not be a required step in any grievance process.
- Each university’s ombudsman and operation shall be guided by recognized professional standards of practice for the role of the ombudsman, including the principles of independence, neutrality, confidentiality, and informality, unless otherwise required by law.
- Additional roles or responsibilities within the university assigned to the ombudsman shall not compromise the ombudsman’s neutrality in responding to an inquiry, concern, or conflict.
- Information on the ombudsman and its role shall be made readily available to all students, faculty, and staff and appear, at a minimum, in the student handbook as provided in BOG Regulation 6.010.
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.