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Oklahoma State University

Purpose and Functions

WELCOME

The Office of the Ombudsperson was established in October, 2013 to promote a supportive learning and working environment at OSU.  The office serves as a resource for all members of the OSU communities on the Stillwater, OSU-Tulsa, and Okmulgee campuses (faculty, students, staff, administrators, and post-doctoral fellows) and offers a safe, confidential place to talk about campus-related problems.

The Ombuds will listen to and review issues; explore options; make inquiries and referrals as appropriate; and/or facilitate resolutions in an impartial manner, without fear of retaliation. The Ombuds will not act as an advocate or take sides in the performance of the activities described.

OUR MISSION

The Mission of the Office of the Ombuds is to provide independent, confidential, impartial, and informal alternative resource for resolution of University – related concerns that includes mediation and group facilitation services to members of the diverse OSU community predicated on the principles of fairness, equity and respect.

OUR SERVICES

The Ombuds will not interfere with established processes, but will help to facilitate the review of concerns and resolutions through informal avenues, as an alternative.

➢  Individual services: Help individuals sort through problems and concerns, identify options and resources, make referrals to appropriate University resources, coach on conflict resolutions skills and facilitate dialogue.

➢ Two or multiple-party mediations: Mediations are voluntary negotiations facilitated by an impartial third-party (Ombuds) who assists the parties in moving to a mutually agreeable resolution of a conflict. The mediator does not impose a decision on the parties, but he/she attempts to help the parties find a solution that is acceptable to both parties.

➢  Group training or facilitation: Address existing complaints or promotes team building to manage conflict in a pro-active, skill-building fashion.

EFFECT ON FORMAL PROCESSES

Meeting with the Ombuds has no effect of a party’s rights or responsibilities to pursue formal complaints. The Ombuds can help you find the appropriate person to speak to or process to follow in order to request that the University take some action, if that is desired. Important rights may be affected by the actual date when formal action is initiated and/or when OSU is informed of allegedly wrongful behavior.

NOTICE TO THE UNIVERSITY

Communication to the Ombuds does not constitute notice to the University. This includes allegations that may be perceived to be violation of laws, regulations or policies, such as sexual harassment, issues covered by the Whistleblower policy, or incidents subject to reporting under the Clery Act. Because the Ombuds does not function as part of the administration of the University nor as a “Campus security authority” as defined in the Clery Act, even if the Ombuds becomes aware of such allegations, the Ombuds is not required to report it to the University or to law enforcement.

If you would like to put the University on notice regarding a specific situation, the Ombuds can provide appropriate information about how to do so.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Use of services provided by the Office of the Ombuds is voluntary and confidential. All conversations with the Office of the Ombuds are confidential and off the record. The Office does not create or maintain records for the University. Any notes taken during the course of a case or documents provided by a visitor are routinely destroyed once the Office determines the case is closed. Exceptions to maintaining confidentiality are if the Ombuds receives permission from a visitor to make a disclosure, has reasonable concern about serious risk of imminent harm or is compelled or required by law to make the disclosure.

Please read the CHARTER AGREEMENT and other documents on the web site for more information about the role and practices of the Office.

Where Do You Start?

Any individual may confidentially call the Office of the Ombuds at any point in a conflict or difficult situation.  You may call as an initial starting point when you are not sure of what to do.  You may also initiate a call on behalf of a group (i.e., a manager interested in a group facilitation or training).

Although every effort is made to maintain secure computer protection, electronic communications are not always private and use of such should be considered accordingly.

Contact information to make an appointment with the Ombuds is: 405-744-6627 or email at: ombuds@okstate.edu .  Phone messages will be returned as early as possible. The Ombuds Office is located in room 224 – Student Union. (The Office of the Ombuds was created on a part-time, on-call basis, and will function in such a manner until a record of use can be evaluated to determine if additional resources may become desirable.) The Ombuds will make every effort to accommodate a visitor’s schedule on whatever date and time is deemed essential and is practical.