Frequently Asked Questions
Who can contact the ombuds office? Is the ombuds only available for students?
The ombuds serves all members of the Gallaudet University campus community: students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, families, applicants, and others as appropriate. In other words, the ombuds' services are not limited only to students.
Can the ombuds become involved with academic issues?
The ombuds may be consulted to address conflicts related to academic and non-academic issues. Common instances of academic issues may include conflicts between students and faculty members, allegations of inappropriate comments or conduct, and questions about academic policies and procedures.
Are any issues off-limits?
If the visitor is a member of the campus community, there is no wrong reason to visit the ombuds office. The ombuds regularly receives concerns regarding the nine following categories:
- compensation and benefits;
- evaluative relationships;
- peer relationships;
- career progression and development;
- legal, regulatory, and financial compliance;
- safety, health, and physical environment;
- service and administrative issues; organizational and strategic issues; and
- values, ethics and standards.
How is the Office of the Ombuds different from the Office of Student Conduct, EEO office, or other existing formal offices available for resolving disputes?
The services provided by the Office of the Ombuds are informal, impartial, independent, and confidential. You may contact the ombuds office at any time without relinquishing your options to contact or file a formal complaint with the appropriate offices on campus. A variety of formal complaint procedures is available, such as the new Student Grievance procedure with the Student Affairs office, and the ombuds office is available as a parallel informal resource to assist in resolving concerns. The visitor may encounter instances of insensitivity, unfairness, or miscommunication which may not necessarily be discrimination and not handled by formal procedures, and the ombuds office may also assist in addressing these situations.
To whom does the ombuds report, and what is reported?
The ombuds reports to the President of Gallaudet University. The ombuds sends monthly reports to the President's Executive Team. These reports list the concerns received by the office and general demographics of the visitors in a way which carefully maintains the confidentiality and anonymity of its visitors. Annual reports are posted on the ombuds' website at: http://www.gallaudet.edu/ombuds-office/annual-reports.html.
Will my anonymity be completely guaranteed?
The ombuds will keep your identity confidential unless there is an imminent risk of serious harm. In other words, if a person's physical safety is in grave danger, confidentiality cannot be maintained. Confidentiality is maintained for all other situations, unless express permission is granted by the visitor. To make a completely anonymous report, the visitor may make a non-traceable online report by using the ombuds' webpage. Please know that if the reports are completely anonymous, the ombuds may not be able assist comprehensively in addressing these reports. The visitor also has the option to file an anonymous report through the campus whistleblower mechanism.
What authority does the ombuds have?
The ombuds may provide only informal assistance, and cannot compel disciplinary actions or involuntary meetings. The ombuds may conduct voluntary mediation and facilitation, confidential meetings, and various conflict management trainings. The ombuds also reviews policies and makes recommendations for change. Moreover, the ombuds may provide notice to university administrators regarding systemic trends and patterns.
If the ombuds is employed by Gallaudet, how independent can the ombuds be?
The ombuds is an "inside outsider" - not part of the administration. Because of this, the ombuds is able to see and address issues within the larger organizational context. Gallaudet supports the independence of the ombuds because it is to everyone's advantage to have all concerns, even the most sensitive, brought to the surface and resolved. The ombuds office which upholds the tenets of neutrality, independence, confidentiality, and informality is recognized nationally as a best practice in higher education.
My question isn't shown here. What can I do?
For more information, you may visit the ombuds office's website at: http://www.gallaudet.edu/ombuds-office. For specific questions and requests for appointments, please contact the ombuds, Elizabeth Stone, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit the office at Ely Center, Room 113. Normal business hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, but because hours vary to accommodate the schedules of visitors, it would be best to send an email first to schedule an appointment.