- Frequently Asked Questions
- Terms of Reference
- ACCUO Fairness Guide
Will visiting the Ombuds Office hurt my relationship with Confederation College?
No. You should not be worried that making a complaint with this office will affect your marks, grades or relationships. This Office and the College will strive to protect you from any repercussions. Please remember that members of the College community, such as your teachers, are professionals who want you to succeed. If you have a concern, speak up. The first step towards resolving a problem is to communicate with the persons involved.
What does the College Ombudsperson do?
The Ombudsperson is an advocate for fairness, but not an advocate for any one person involved in a dispute or grievance. The Ombudsperson is not a substitute for seeking help or information through normal College channels. If you are unsure where to go for help, this office is a good place to start. The Ombudsperson attempts to resolve complaints fairly and informally. The Ombudsperson does not assign guilt or blame. The goal is to obtain the best outcome for everyone concerned.
What will happen when I visit the Office of the Ombudsperson?
When you visit the Office of the Ombudsperson, generally, the following will take place. The process may vary somewhat depending on the situation.
The Ombudsperson will listen carefully and ask questions to help clarify your concerns. What you share with the Ombudsperson will be held in strict confidence. To assist the Ombudsperson in assessing your situation, it would be helpful to bring a copy of any supporting documents such as letters. e-mails or other relevant information. If you are unable to make a copy, the Ombudsperson will make a copy and return the originals to you. All related documents will be kept in a confidential file.
You may be asked to provide further information as a means to gather all the relevant facts of the case.
Before deciding whether the Office of the Ombudsperson should become involved, the Ombudsperson may need to consult with other persons in the College. Your consent must be obtained in advance before contacting other persons. Sometimes an anonymous inquiry is all that is needed. For more complex issues, it may be necessary to disclose your name, but only with your consent.
Based on the initial discussion and consideration of further information, you will be told, with reasons, if it is appropriate for the Ombudsperson to become involved. If the Ombudsperson does not get involved, you will be offered advice on how you could proceed.
The length of time it takes to resolve a complaint will vary depending on its complexity. The Office of the Ombudsperson will update you periodically on the progress of your case.
Do I have to pay to use the Ombuds service?
No, the services are free of charge.
Download Terms of Reference (pdf file)
Conflict is a complex issue, one that naturally permeates all organizational and community life. In order to address conflict effectively, we need:
- an attitude of RESPECT towards those with whom we disagree;
- a WILLINGNESS to entertain new definitions of the issues at hand;
- SENSITIVITY to culture, gender and personality differences that may influence perceptions of the needs of the parties; and
- ATTENTION to the development of communication and problem-solving skills.
(SOURCE: 8/2/2004 University of Wisconsin-Madison Academic Leadership Support, Office of Quality Improvement and Office of Human Resources Development. Emphasis added.)
Mediation and the Ombudsperson
Due to the confidential and impartial nature of the Ombuds Office, the Ombudsperson is often an ideal mediator. If you are interested in discussing if mediation is appropriate for your situation, please contact the Ombuds Office.
What is Mediation?
Conflict, whether it be workplace conflict (even between supervisor and employee), or student / teacher concerns, can be effectively resolved, and working relationships restored, through a process known as mediation.
Mediation is a problem-solving process. It provides a way for two or more people to solve problems by talking to one another in a safe and controlled environment. A neutral third person, known as the mediator, facilitates the discussion by helping both parties communicate what is important to them. They provide help to reach an agreement by identifying the issues, exploring possible bases for agreement and encouraging each party to accommodate the interest of the other. Mediators are neutral to the conflict - they do not take sides nor do they determine how problems should be solved.
What Happens in Mediation?
The mediator guides disputants through a process of communicating and listening to each other’s needs and interests. The mediator facilitates the search for ways to solve the problem based on a thorough understanding of each of the disputants’ stated needs and interests. The mediator encourages a give-and-take discussion with an agreement everyone can ‘live with’ as the ultimate goal.
What Are the Benefits of Mediation?
- the people experiencing the problem are the people solving the problem
- early intervention often halts the damaging effects of escalating conflict
- it produces solutions which meet individual specific needs
- it produces solutions which are private and confidential and often creative
- it can build or restore working relationships
- it teaches a process for resolving future conflicts
- it promotes reasonable dialogue and understanding between people and (re)builds trust
What is Discrimination?
Discrimination means treating people differently, negatively or adversely because of their race, sex, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, same sex partner status, sexual orientation, age, disability, citizenship, family status or religion. These are prohibited grounds of discrimination.
What is Harassment?
Harassment is defined in Ontario’s laws as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome’. Generally, these comments or conduct must be related to one of the prohibited grounds such as race, sex, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, same sex partner status, sexual orientation, age, disability, citizenship, family status or religion.