PURPOSE: The purpose of this Operating Policy/Procedure (OP) is to create policies and procedures necessary for the Office of the Ombuds to function effectively, and to promote constituents’ understanding of and confidence in the Office of the Ombuds and it services.
REVIEW: This OP will be reviewed by September 1 of each even-numbered year by the Ombuds and revised if necessary.
The Office of the Ombuds is established as a neutral, objective third party to provide students/parents, staff and faculty of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University with informal assistance in resolving academic and non-academic issues related to student life. The responsibilities of this office are executed by an ombuds who serves as a source of information and assistance with respect to university rules, regulations, policies, and procedures. The ombudsman may make any recommendations he or she deems appropriate with regard to resolving problems or improving policies, rules, or procedures. However, he or she shall have no actual authority to impose remedies or sanctions, or to enforce any policy, rule, or procedure.
2. Role and Purpose
(1) The Office of the Ombuds is independent in its structure and function, and reports to the Vice President for Student Affairs.
(2) The Ombuds responds to issues, concerns, inquiries, and complaints either by request or on her/his own initiative.
(3) The Ombuds has access to all levels within the campus community and authorization to obtain records necessary for the resolution of concerns, except as prohibited by university policy or law.
(1) The Ombuds’ office shall be neutral, impartial, unaligned, and objective in the performance of all duties.
(2) The Ombuds has no personal interest or stake in and incurs no personal gain or loss from the outcome of an issue.
(3) The Ombuds is an advocate for good and fair process, not an advocate on behalf of individuals or the institution.
(1) The Ombuds shall not disclose and shall not be required to disclose any information provided in confidence or otherwise received in the course of performing her/his duties, except to address a serious risk of imminent harm or as required by law, judicial order, or other legal process.
(2) The Ombuds does not disclose, without permission, communications received from any or all parties in the course of performing her/his duties.
(3) The privilege of confidentiality of communications and records belongs to the Ombuds and the Office of the Ombuds, rather than to any party to an issue.
(4) If the Ombuds pursues an issue systemically, the Ombuds does so without revealing the identity of a complainant or a singular situation that could be associated with a particular individual(s), unless the Ombuds has obtained the individual’s permission to do so.
(5) The Ombuds shall comply with institutional standards of privacy and confidentiality in the pursuit or provision of information.
(6) Communication with the Ombuds is not notice to the organization.
(1) The Ombuds functions on an informal basis by such means as listening, providing and receiving information, reframing issues, developing options, referral, third party intervention, shuttle diplomacy, mediation, and systems change.
(2) The Ombuds does not take an active role in any formal institutional investigative or adjudicative procedures except maybe as a member of a committee. The Ombuds may informally investigate or otherwise examine alleged procedural irregularities of a formal process and allegations about alleged acts, omissions, improprieties, and/or broader systemic problems.
(3) The Ombuds supplements, but does not replace, any steps required in formal internal or external procedures. Use of the Ombuds Office is not a required step in any grievance process or organizational policy.
(4) The Ombuds hears, considers, and, as appropriate, pursues resolution of the concerns, issues, perceptions, interpretations, facts, and/or allegations of inappropriate acts, omissions, or improprieties presented by individuals.
(5) When a formal investigation is requested, the ombudsman shall refer the individual(s) to the appropriate offices or persons.
a. After the normal procedures or processes have been accessed, any student/parent, staff or faculty of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University can bring forward any academic or non-academic issue related to student life to the Ombuds.
b. The Ombuds will meet with the concerned person, investigate, meet with appropriate administrators if necessary, explain the available options, and may recommend an appropriate course of action.
c. The Ombuds shall attempt to handle all inquiries in an expeditious manner.
d. When the Ombuds receives a request to review a decision, policy, or procedure, this request must be presented by one of the parties involved, and no third party shall have authority to initiate such a request on another’s behalf. This restriction does not preclude the ombudsman from conducting regular and independent reviews of decisions, policies, or procedures.
e. The Ombuds shall produce an annual public report indicating the number and type of cases handled and any recommendations the Ombuds feels are in the best interest of the university.
Right to Change Policy
The Office of the Ombuds reserves the right to interpret, change, modify, amend, or rescind this policy, in whole or in part, at any time.