What is an Ombudsperson?
The Ombudsperson (or Ombuds) is an informational resource available to all members of the CMU community that provides independent, impartial, confidential, and informal support for student-related matters.
The Ombuds will work with you, off the record, to provide an outside perspective on your situation. The Ombuds does not have formal authority to make or change administrative or disciplinary decisions.
Previous visitors to the office have discussed:
- Grade disputes
- Misunderstanding involving their instructor or classmates
- Concerns related to their thesis or dissertation
- Disciplinary matters
- Housing and roommate conflicts
- Matters related to a disability
- Situations involving alleged harassment and discrimination
- Other interpersonal concerns
When should I contact the Ombuds Office?
If you are not sure where to take your concerns, if you are feeling stuck, or if you are uncertain about the direction you have been given and would like to talk further, the office may be an appropriate outlet. If you feel as though you have exhausted the opportunity to explore your situation through other offices that are closer to your concern, you could consider contacting the office.
The sooner you reach out for assistance, the more options you may have to effectively address your situation.
What should I expect when I consult the Ombuds Office?
The office is guided by the operating principles of independence, impartiality, confidentiality, and informality, established by the International Ombudsman Association. The Ombuds will spend a brief amount of time explaining their role, then you may talk freely about your situation. The Ombuds will:
- Provide a respectful and comfortable environment for conversation
- Listen to your questions, concerns, and complaints
- Help gather information about potential options and appropriate resources
- Suggest connecting with individuals or offices with expertise in a specific area
- Clarify university policy and procedure
- Address questions concerning appropriate academic or administrative channels
- Open avenues of communication
- Share information about how to file a formal complaint, appeal, or grievance
- Track trends and common areas of concern
When is it not appropriate to involve the Ombuds office?
- If you are looking for legal advice or representation. The Ombuds can advise you of your rights within the university, but does not provide legal advice or represent you in a legal matter.
- If you are looking for someone to advocate for you in a dispute. As a neutral party, the Ombuds does not advocate for either party in a disagreement, and instead advocates for fair and equitable treatment.
- If you have a non-university related concern or problem. The Ombuds will not address disputres between members of the campus community and private individuals, companies or organizations not affiliated with the university.
- If you would like to give notice to the university. This office is not an office of notice and will not receive formal complaints to be investigated and/or processed within existing university procedures. Instead, the office will refer you to the appropriate office to receive your complaint.