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FAQ's (Ombud's Office)

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  1. What is an ombudsperson?
  2. What an ombudsperson can do for you
  3. When should you contact the ombudsperson?
  4. What kind of concerns does the ombudsperson handle?
  5. What the ombudsperson cannot do
  6. The ombuds role in the appeal process

What is an ombudsperson?

An Ombudsperson is an impartial person who provides confidential and informal assistance for resolving college-related concerns, complaints or conflicts, especially those that are not being adequately addressed through usual channels. The role of the Ombudsperson is ‘preventative conflict resolution’ in practice. The Office is a means of protecting students from abuse, mistake or violation. The Ombudsperson is available to all students (current, former, prospective) of the college community. The Ombudsperson does not take sides, but rather will consider all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective manner. The Ombudsperson is independent of the College’s formal administrative structure and is funded by the College and Student Union. This independence ensures an impartial and strictly confidential environment.

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What an ombudsperson can do for you

Listen and Clarify

  • Listen carefully to your concerns and ask questions to help clarify them.
  • Gather all of the relevant facts and objectively review your situation.
  • Understand your goals and what outcomes you are seeking.
  • Help you to define the problem and identify / evaluate a variety of options in finding a solution.
  • Make inquiries on your behalf.

Advise and Inform

  • Provide advice on how to access appropriate decision makers.
  • Make a referral to other College or community resources.
  • Help you understand College policies, procedures and practices that may be relevant to your situation.
  • Provide information you need to solve College-related concerns and suggest approaches for managing conflicts.
  • Help you create and analyze workable options and develop a plan of action.
  • Provide advice on informal and formal methods of dispute resolution.
  • Provide guidance in the preparation of an articulate and informative case to assist in reaching a fair resolution.

Assist and Intervene

  • Make enquiries, collaborate and initiate problem-solving discussions with others.
  • Examine all the relevant evidence and initiate discussion with other involved individuals (for instance, speak with the registrar, teacher or tutor) with your permission.
  • Facilitate effective communication and act as a go-between or intermediary.

Mediate and Explore

  • Help you solve a problem or complaint informally and quickly.
  • Assist you in pursuing an effective resolution.
  • Act as a facilitator or mediator for conflicts between yourself and others.
  • Make recommendations regarding solutions or changes to policies and procedures when appropriate.

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 When should you contact the ombudsperson?

  • when you want to discuss a sensitive issue in confidence
  • when you have a conflict with another party and need help in facilitating resolution.
  • when you have a situation requiring help in communication or negotiation with faculty, staff, students or others.
  • when you are unsure which policies, procedures or regulations apply.
  • when you feel a policy, procedure or regulation has been unfairly applied to you.
  • when you have a complaint about an office or service at the College.
  • when you don’t know who to talk to, where to turn or what options are available.

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What kind of concerns does the ombudsperson handle?

An Ombudsperson is available to handle College-related complaints and concerns that have not been adequately addressed through the usual channels. However, students are in control of the process i.e. the student ultimately decides what to do about their situation and can decide to withdraw from the Ombuds service at any time. Some reasons for visiting the Ombuds Office include:

Academic:

  • grade appeals
  • academic misconduct (e.g. plagiarism)
  • student records and transcripts
  • course rules and requirements
  • performance feedback
  • medical or compassionate circumstances
  • problems with instructors / placements
  • academic probation and readmission
  • requests to withdraw from a program

Non-academic:

  • registration
  • fees / financial
  • parking
  • fines and refunds
  • discrimination / harassment
  • codes of conduct / misbehaviour
  • residence / learning environment
  • student employment on campus

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What the ombudsperson cannot do

  • take sides
  • breach confidentiality
  • provide legal or psychological counseling
  • make policy and managerial decisions or discipline
  • act as a substitute for formal grievance, investigative or appeals processes
  • participate in academic appeals
  • intervene in any conflicts with individuals or groups outside the College
  • Intervene in any matter covered by a collective agreement
  • accept notice on behalf of the College

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The ombuds role in the appeal process

The Ombuds office does not replace the appeal process. The Ombudsperson can provide information about appeal procedures and grounds for appeal. The Ombudsperson can facilitate communication, clarify issues or problem-solve to assist the student in understanding the process and his or her rights and responsibilities. Advice on organizing and presenting an appeal, or offering feedback on an appeal letter can be provided. The Ombudsperson does not represent students at appeal hearings.

A student appealing an academic decision can receive help from the Ombuds Office in the way of:

  •  information about policies and procedures
  •  information about how decisions are made
  •  advice about what to present at the appeal
  •  an opinion about the merits of a particular case
  •  feedback on a draft letter
  •  intervention to facilitate communication, clarify issues or problem solve

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