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When to Contact Ombuds

There are many circumstances under which people can benefit from an “off the record” conversation with someone knowledgeable about Auburn University and its policies. Topics you may want to discuss could involve conflicts with co-workers or supervisors; communication problems; concerns about job status and work environment; and questions about what options are available for handling a problem according to AU policy. Or, you may wish to learn what resources are available to you, request a reality check, or request information about the rights and responsibilities of all parties. Topics might include:

  • Interpersonal difficulties with colleagues, subordinates, or supervisors
  • Departmental and interdepartmental conflicts
  • Preparing for a difficult conversation
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Violations of university policy
  • Workplace disputes
  • Bureaucratic frustrations
  • Retaliation
  • Formal processes and procedures
  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Cultural misunderstandings
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Research misconduct
  • Incivility or rudeness
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Academic freedom and integrity
  • Protecting your reputation
What an Ombudsperson does:
  • Actively listen to your questions and concerns
  • Offer information about Auburn University policies, procedures, and programs
  • Discuss your concerns and clarify issues
  • Help identify and evaluate a range of options for resolving a problem
  • Gather information and offer referral to other resources when appropriate
  • Advise you on steps to resolve a problem informally
  • Facilitate communication indirectly or, when given permission, through serving as an impartial third party
  • Work for collaborative agreements through negotiation or mediation
  • Track perceived issues and trends
  • Make recommendations for review of policies or procedures to appropriate bodies
What an Ombudsperson does not do:
  • Make decisions, findings of fact, or determine the “guilt” or “innocence” of those accused of wrongdoing
  • Establish, change, or set aside policies or administrative decisions
  • Offer legal advice
  • Offer psychological counseling
  • Participate in grievances or other formal processes
  • Serve as an agent of notice for Auburn University
  • Serve as an advocate for any individual

Please be aware that the Ombudsperson does not record formal complaints on behalf of Auburn University, and the Ombudsperson is not designated by Auburn University as an individual authorized to receive reports of any violations of university policy. Therefore, communications made to the Ombudsperson regarding possible violations of university policies or of unlawful practices do not constitute notice to Auburn University. This allows the Ombudsperson to preserve the confidential and impartial nature of the office. If you would like to make a formal complaint and put the University on notice, you will be provided with the appropriate method to do so and referred to the appropriate office and policy.