Ombuds Services

The Ombudsman provides a variety of services designed to assist individuals and groups in the informal resolution of conflicts or concerns.

South Texas College Ombudsman Scope of Authority and Responsibility (Office Charter)

The Ombudsman at South Texas College are Organizational Ombudsman, they are designated neutrals who are employed by South Texas College to assist with the facilitation of informal resolutions to concerns of student related issues.

The Ombudsman DOES NOT represent any individual, conduct formal investigations, or advocate in any way.

The role of the Ombudsman is to work with individuals and groups at South Texas College to explore and assist them in determining options to help them resolve their conflicts, problematic issues or concerns, and to bring systemic concerns to the attention of the organization for resolution.

The Ombudsman operates in a manner to preserve the confidentiality of those seeking services, maintains a neutral/impartial position with respect to the concerns raised, works at an informal level of the organizational system, and is independent of formal organizational structures.

The Ombudsman functions in the following manner:

  • Listens and understands issues while remaining neutral with respect to the facts.
    • The ombudsman does not listen to judge or to decide who is right or wrong.
    • The ombudsman listens to understand the issue from the perspective of the individual.
  • Assists in reframing issues and developing and helping individuals evaluate options.
  • Guides or coaches individuals to deal directly with other parties, including the use of formal resolution resources of the organization.
    • An ombudsman often seeks to help individuals improve their skill and their confidence in giving voice to their concerns directly.
  • Refers individuals to appropriate resolution resources.
    • Individuals may be referred to one or more formal organizational resources that can potentially resolve the issue.
  • Assists in surfacing issues to formal resolution channels.
    • Facilitates informal resolution processes such as, mediation and conflict management coaching.
  • Identifies new issues and opportunities for systemic change for the organization.

The Ombudsman DOES NOT

  • Participate in any formal investigations or resolution process
  • Receive notice on behalf of South Texas College
    • Individuals MUST direct their concerns to individuals or departments who have the formal authority to address their concerns
  • Make decisions or mandate policies
  • Create or maintain records or reports for South Texas College

International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics

International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice

What is an Organizational Ombudsman?

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An ombudsman is one who assists individuals and groups in the resolution of conflicts or concerns. The typical duties of an ombudsman would be to assist in parties informally by listen to concerns, explain campus policies, and act as a neutral resource between the student and employees of the College. The Ombudsperson facilitates communication between and among the parties to help minimize potential conflicts. The Ombudsperson may attempt to resolve complaints using mediation or other forms of conflict resolution. The Ombudsman may also identify systemic issues that lead to poor service or breaches of individual rights.

The Ombudsperson does not maintain records or receives notice on behalf of South Texas College.

The Office of the Ombudsperson provides confidential, informal, independent, and neutral dispute resolution services for members of the College community. The office assists students in identifying and evaluating options for resolving and managing conflicts, provides mediation services, conducts workshops on conflict management, and makes referrals to other appropriate College and community resources.

The Office is familiar with the organizational structure of the College and can provide current information about campus services, programs, policies, and procedures. Due to our informal, confidential, and independent role outside the administrative structure of the College, notice to the Office of the Ombudsperson about a problem does not result in the generation of records, nor does it constitute legal notice to the College about the existence of a problem. For those interested in making official complaints to the College about a problem, the Office of the Ombudsperson can assist by making appropriate referrals.

The Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Please call to request an appointment if you are unable to meet during regular working hours.

Record Keeping

The Office of the Ombudsperson does not maintain records for any individual or on behalf of the College. The Office of the Ombudsperson maintains unidentified statistical data for reporting purposes only.

Parties are encouraged to maintain copies of all documents associated with their complaint or concern as the Ombudsperson does not maintain files, notes, or personally identifiable information.

Communications with the Ombudsperson and the Right to Confidentiality and Privacy

South Texas College recognizes that privacy and confidentiality are essential to the maintenance of the relationship between the parties who access and utilize the services offered by the Ombudsperson. As such, the College is committed to fostering an environment where individuals who access the services may do so without fear of requirement to breach their request for privacy or confidentiality.

South Texas College believes in fostering a confidential relationship between the members of the College community and the Office of the Ombudsperson that promotes self-determination and sees confidential communications as essential to that relationship and the function of the Office.

Furthermore, any violation of this confidential relationship, would be detrimental to the role of the Ombudsperson as an independent, neutral and impartial, confidential, and informal resource for resolving conflicts.

As such, the Office of the Ombudsperson will not disclose, nor be asked to disclose communications made to the Office of the Ombudsperson in confidence.

Services Offered

Consultations

The consultation is the opening step of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Process. It is a meeting in which the Ombudsperson talks to a person about the problem, question, or concern they have brought forward.

Conflict Management Coaching

Conflict Coaching is a specialized one-on-one process that helps clients optimize the way they engage in their interpersonal disputes.

Mediation

Mediation is a structured process in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between the parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or an understanding between them.

Facilitated Dialogue

Facilitated Dialogue is an alternative dispute resolution process that facilitates listing and collaboration for a group or gathering of people in a manner that increases understanding and empathy.

Talking Circles

A talking circle is a traditional instrument for dealing with the things that interfere with the normal everyday concerns of a person or their community whether the concern is trivial or serious in nature.

Important Links

To learn more about the organizational ombudsman role, read “The Organizational Ombudsman,” by Howard Gadlin and Mary Rowe in Oxford Handbooks Online.