Ombuds Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Ombuds do?
The Student Ombuds is…
- A neutral third party who assists in resolving problems, concerns and complaints through informal means such as counseling, negotiations, and mediation
- An objective professional with a concern for fairness, equity and accuracy
- A comprehensive campus information resource
- A proponent for change if it is clear that existing procedures are problematic
- An advisor on how to navigate the University system most effectively
- A collaborator with an awareness of the concerns of the individual as well as the concerns of the institution
- A mentor to help students analyze and resolve their problems
- An authority on rules, policies, practices and procedures
- An informal investigator of issues and concerns
The Student Ombuds does not…
- Supersede the authority of other University officials or faculty
- Change rules, policies, practices or procedures
- Engage in any activity that might be perceived by others as advocacy for an individual
- Participate in any formal hearing or grievance process
- Conduct formal investigations
- Provide legal advice or represent the student in a legal matter
When should I go to the Student Ombuds?
- If you are not sure where to go for help
- If you need someone to listen to your concern
- Need advice on a procedure such as a grade or fee appeal
- Have not been able to resolve your issue no matter what you try
- Are confused about University policy or feel that a rule, practice, policy or procedure is unfair or has not been fairly applied to your situation
How can the Ombuds help me?
If you have a University-related problem, the Ombuds can assist you in obtaining the information needed to help you resolve it. The Student Ombuds will listen, advise, define options, help you choose a resolution strategy, and make recommendations on how it may best be implemented. In addition, the Ombuds can make referrals to individuals who have more expertise in a specific area.
What types of concerns does the Ombuds’ Office hear?
The Office assists students to develop resolution strategies for:
- Grade appeals
- Student conflicts with instructors, staff, processes or departments
- Student to student issues
- Academic integrity issues
- Factors affecting Enrollment
- Financial concerns
- Health issues impacting enrollment
- Academic policy issues
- Anything else of a non-legal nature
What should I bring to the Ombuds’ Office?
It is best to have available for the Ombuds’ review all documentation regarding your problem. For example, copies of letters or e-mails your have sent or received, copies of forms submitted and supporting documentation. If you are not sure what to bring, just call and ask!
Do you have to make an appointment?
By making an appointment you are assured that the Ombuds will be there and available to assist you with your issue. The office may not always be able to accommodate walk-ins within the constraints of time you have between classes or between classes and work. Sometimes your questions or concerns can be handled over the phone or by email, with no need to visit the office in person. The Ombuds will let you know if there are any particular reasons why an office visit is necessary.
Why are we here?
The Office of the Student Ombuds is here to help make your academic career at UNF successful. It provides UNF students with a safe, confidential place to bring questions and concerns about University rules, policies, or procedures, and provides advice to students to help them develop strong and effective working relationships with faculty and staff at the University. The Ombuds assists students by considering all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective way, and then advises on how to respond to the issues presented.
What else do I need to know about the Ombuds?
The Student Ombuds is here to help any student in need, but is not the same as a student advocate. The only thing the Ombuds advocates for is fairness. The Ombuds can help you decide what to do in resolving your problems and give advice, but cannot guarantee that everything will work out to your satisfaction. Sometimes the role the Ombuds plays is educational, making sure that you understand the policies and procedures so that you can avoid similar issues in the future. Finally, the Ombuds does not have decision-making authority and cannot tell any staff, administrator or faculty member what to do.
Confidentiality, Records and “Notice”
The Student Ombuds' Office is a confidential one. It keeps no official University records of names or concerns, although it may collect demographic and feedback data for statistical purposes only.The Ombuds may take brief notes as a memory aid, but these personal notes and any other paperwork or communications are disposed of by shredding at the earliest opportunity. Email is by its very nature not a confidential method of communications, but its use can provide clients of the Ombuds' Office with much quicker and more effective service. Therefore, students who visit the Ombuds' Office should consider whether they are comfortable with the Ombuds using email when working on their concerns, and if they are not, inform him immediately. Otherwise, permission to conduct business on their behalf vial email will be assumed. Speaking to the Ombuds does not constitute notice to the University that a problem exists. To do that, a student would need to speak with the appropriate administrator or begin a formal petition or appeals process.