I am an ISU staff/faculty member. May I go to the Ombudsperson Council if I have a problem? What if I am a supervisor or a chair?
The Ombudsperson Council is appointed to assist members of the ISU community—regardless of position (staff, administrative professional, faculty, supervisor)—with problems or concerns that may hinder their professional, academic, or personal lives. The assistance may be an objective review and recommendation, an investigation, an interpretation of policy, or a beneficial referral.
I am a staff member who believes that my supervisor does not care about my professional concerns or needs. What can the Ombudsperson Council do? OR I am a supervisor who feels that my employee is not hearing, understanding, or responding correctly to my concerns. I would like to retain this person because of his/her value to the department. What can the Ombudsperson Council do?
Before a situation reaches the formal action stage, the Council can assist in opening up avenues of communication so that effective means of addressing and resolving the issues can be found.
On whose side is the Ombudsperson Council? Mine or theirs?
Neither. The Council is a neutral and impartial participant, committed to fairness for all sides. The Council does not advocate on behalf of any individual within the organization.
Is the Ombudsperson Council more responsive to the needs of administrators, especially if those administrators are tenured faculty or department chairs?
No. The Ombudsperson Council is absolutely unaligned and works as an advocate for equity. No sides are taken; no opinions are rendered as to who is "right" or "wrong." At all times, the Council works to deliver the most informed advice possible to enable you to address your problem or grievance.
As a supervisor, I may simply want to discuss a problem, concern, or situation without being put in the "formal process machine." May I engage in a conversation about a problem, an employee grievance, or a personal difficulty without rumors being spread or notes taken which might circulate?
The Ombudsperson Council is a resource established by the University to help you informally address your concerns. Frequently, this help may consist of recommending you to an office such as the University Mediation Program, Academic Senate, Human Resources, or other staff and faculty support entities, like the Employee Assistance program or the Office of Equal Opportunity, Ethics and Access. You are entitled to and will receive complete confidentiality, unless disclosure is required by law.* If Council members desire to take notes, they will ask your permission before they do so.
If I have a personal problem I need advice about, will a visit to your office jeopardize my career? OR If I simply want information on what to do about a particular problem or concern, can I count on complete confidentiality from the Ombudsperson Council?
All conversations with the Council are confidential and, therefore, no one will know that you have consulted with them. At all times the issues you discuss with the Council remain in strict confidence, unless you give express authorization for release or unless disclosure is required by law.* To preserve your confidentiality and rights and to help you feel more secure about the process, the Council can meet with you at a neutral, mutually agreed-upon location. Telephone meetings also can be arranged.
I see that the Council has three members. May I choose the person I want to work with?
No. The three members of the Ombudsperson Council normally confer and work together. They do this in order to bring to bear their collective information, experiences, and perspectives with the goal of offering unbiased and reasonable suggestions for conflict resolution. In order to avoid partiality or perceptions of conflict of interest, however, member Ombudspersons should not provide Council services to people whom that member—in her/his other capacities—serves, manages, reports to, teaches, advises, or evaluates. In these cases, recusal of an Ombudsperson will be proper.
What should I do before contacting the Ombudsperson Council?
For those seeking consultation with the Council, regardless of position (staff, administrative professional, faculty, or supervisor), the following is helpful to keep in mind:
*The Ombudsperson Council takes specific action related to an individual’s issue only with that person’s express permission. In addition, the Council has responsibility to maintain in confidence the identity of the individual. The only exception to this confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm, and where there is no other reasonable option and/or where required by law. Whether this risk exists is a determination to be made by the Council members in consultation with the University’s General Counsel. Best practice is to interpret “imminent risk of serious harm” as narrowly as possible – for example, imminent risk to human life.