What is an Ombuds?
An ombudsperson provides independent, informal, and non-partisan counsel to faculty and staff within the Alfred State campus community. Alfred State employees can seek the campus ombuds’ assistance in dispute resolution or misunderstandings. At its core, an ombuds is an informal resource that is neutral, independent, and confidential.
The ombuds provides an opportunity for visitors to discuss matters of concern and may act as a listener, mediator, and factfinder. The campus ombuds answers questions and provides feedback regarding concerns or complaints.
The ombuds may also provide referrals to campus resources. Faculty and staff are not required to meet with the campus ombudsperson to access those resources.
When appropriate, the campus ombuds can also speak generally with campus offices about concerns to create a more supportive environment for faculty and staff.
The Ombuds assists faculty and staff in identifying and evaluating options for resolving and managing conflicts, provides mediation services, and makes referrals to other appropriate university and community resources. The office is independent of the administration. Its function can be described less as advocacy and more as achieving fairness.
The Ombuds is easily accessible as a confidential sounding board and source of assistance. Contact Alfred State Ombuds, David Ray.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the ombuds operate?
The ombuds is one option faculty or staff may wish to pursue for informal and confidential discussions about a perceived grievance. All matters discussed with the ombuds are held in confidence except when, during confidential communication with the ombuds, permission is given to the ombuds to reach out to others, or, in a situation in which the ombuds determines that there is an imminent threat of serious harm.
The ombuds will not keep formal records for Alfred State and is not authorized to accept claims against Alfred State. The ombuds operates according to the International Ombuds Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
Why have an ombuds?
Adding an organizational ombuds is a proven and effective way to build and improve workplace culture. The ombuds’ role is to be a confidential and informal mediator for concerns involving faculty and staff. The campus ombuds provides an informal and confidential space to identify and address issues that arise within the Alfred State College community. The office of the ombuds also supports diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to include racial and social justice within our campus community. The ombuds may also be utilized informally to address interpersonal and group conflict.
Will the ombuds advocate on my behalf?
The ombuds may assist and guide faculty and staff in resolving workplace conflicts or in addressing concerns of misconduct. A visitor to the ombuds may also request that the ombuds facilitate a larger conversation. The ombuds is not, however, an advocate for any individual; rather, the ombuds advocates for a fair process.
What authority does the ombuds have?
The ombuds has access to information that may help in addressing faculty and staff concerns and will provide trend reports to leaders to help improve workplace practices. The ombuds has no authority to make or change any policy or decision.
What happens after an ombuds meeting?
In meeting with the ombuds, you will have an opportunity to discuss your concerns and evaluate various formal and informal options for addressing the issues; you can then decide what steps you will take.
What if I want to file a formal complaint?
The ombuds can assist in explaining the process involved in the formal filing of a complaint and direct you to the correct office or individual. The ombuds is not authorized to accept formal complaints.
International Ombuds Association
The College Ombuds operates according to the International Ombuds Association (IOA) Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and serves the faculty and staff of Alfred State College community. Individuals who visit the Office of the Ombuds are advised of these Standards of Practice and are considered to have agreed to the tenets therein. As a result, visitors acknowledge and accept that the Ombuds will not disclose or keep records of individually identifiable information or testify at or participate in any formal proceeding.
What does the ombuds NOT do?
The campus ombuds will not become involved in a case involving a formal grievance, or disciplinary or termination procedures as formalized in university governing documents. The ombuds is not an advocate in the grievance process and is not meant as a replacement for resources already in place designed to resolve grievances.
The campus ombuds does not take sides in a dispute. They are meant to be an informal resource in attempts to resolve disputes for faculty and staff within the campus community. Additionally, the campus ombuds does not conduct investigations or overrule decisions made by college officials.
Finally, as an informal resource, the ombuds is not authorized to accept formal complaints for Alfred State. The ombuds also will not intervene if the person initiating the grievance or others involved in the grievance have already contacted an attorney or, in some cases, the Office of Human Resources.
The campus ombuds will not act as a witness or later testify in formal grievance or legal proceedings unless compelled by law. The ombuds will not keep identifying records or assume a custodial role regarding formal documentation of a dispute. If you want campus administration aware of a particular problem, the ombuds can refer you to the appropriate office or individual.
Is this a formal process?
No, the campus ombuds operates in an informal capacity. The ombuds does not duplicate existing processes such as grievance procedures, judicial hearings, or other formal procedures. The ombuds may inquire whether proper procedures were followed and inform those in authority regarding gaps and inadequacies in existing procedures.