What is an "Ombuds"?
"Ombuds' is the shortened, generally Americanized form of the term "Ombudsman." Here, the term "ombuds" refers to the designated Ombuds who provides problem-solving resources to the CSUSB campus community.
The term "Ombuds" is broadly understood to refer to a person who, acting in an impartial capacity, is appointed to help resolve complaints ("What is an Organizational Ombuds?"). In North America and Europe, the role has evolved, especially in recent years, into many different forms with different missions and practice standards. Most Ombuds who work in US-based academic settings are "organizational" Ombuds, and work to address concerns and problems of their constituencies using informal means. Many Ombuds, including the CSUSB Ombuds, practice according to the International Ombuds Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
What's the difference between the Ombuds and the Employee Assistance Program?
The Office of the University Ombuds and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) share several important features, namely confidentiality, high sensitivity, and a staff experienced in organizational problems.
The Office of the University Ombuds is staffed by an organizational ombuds with extensive experience in conflict management and alternative dispute resolution. The Ombuds can help you evaluate just about any kind of concern you may have regarding life, work, or school at CSUSB. Finally, the mission of the Office includes communicating trends and patterns of problems to senior officials at CSUSB so that systemic problems can be identified and addressed.
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is an employee benefit offered by CSUSB. The EAP is intended to help employees deal with personal problems that may adversely impact their job performance, health, and well-being. The EAP generally offers short-term counseling and referral services for employees and their family members. Community Action Employee Assistance Program (CAEAP) is the contracted provider for this employee benefit.
What if I have Discrimination, Harassment or Retaliation (DHR) complaint of a non-sexual nature?
For complaints by students or staff members of Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation complaint based on any protected statuses except gender or sexual orientation, you must seek the services of the Co-DHR Officer, Robin Phillips in Sierra Hall, Room 110 or telephone 909-537-5138. Faculty with DHR complaints based on any protected statuses except gender or sexual orientation must seek the services of the Co-Deputy DHR Officer, Kevin Grisham in AD-101B or telephone 909-537-5029.
What if I have a Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation complaint?
All formal complaints regarding Discrimination, Harassment or Retaliation based on gender or sexual orientation (DHR) will be referred to the Jeanne Durr, the Institutional Equity & Compliance Executive Director for investigations. The Institutional Equity & Compliance office is located in Sierra Hall Room 131. For more information, telephone 909-537-5669.
Are there issues the Ombuds does not address?
The Ombuds does not handle formal complaints or legal issues of any kind. You may, however, consult with the Ombuds Office before using a formal process.
What makes the Ombuds Program different from other resources at CSUSB?
The Office Ombuds Services reports to the President of the University which helps ensure its independence and impartiality; otherwise, it is independent of all other University offices and decision-making practices and outside of existing departmental structures. The Ombuds does not make administrative decisions and does not have authority to change the outcome of formal processes such as decisions in a formal grievance. Services are visitor initiated. All processes and strategies are used at the discretion of the visitor. The Office also provides a very strict promise of confidentiality which allows you to have off-the-record conversations about highly sensitive problems. If you aren't sure where to take your concern, the Ombuds is a safe place to start.
Will the Ombuds maintain confidentiality of my communications?
Yes. Confidentiality is essential to the functioning of the Ombuds Office. We do not maintain identifying records. Communications with the Ombuds are made with the understanding that they are confidential and that the Ombuds will not testify with respect to confidential communications or participate in formal, grievance, or other legal proceedings. Consistent with the International Ombuds Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, the Ombuds Office also claims that these communications are privileged, with the privilege held by the Ombuds Office and not the visitor. The only exceptions to this confidentiality are when, during the course of communications with the Ombuds, permission is granted to the Ombuds to make disclosure and the Ombuds agrees to do so or, if the Ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm.
What happens when you go to the Ombuds Office?
You'll be given the opportunity to complete an electronic intake process. Completion of the electronic intake process is completely voluntary. The office does not retain the intake form or any other permanent records. The Ombuds is a campus resource to assist you in resolving any university-related concerns confidentially and informally. The Ombuds will listen to your concerns, ask clarifying questions and help you explore options that you may want to use to resolve your issue.
Who can contact the Ombuds Office?
University students, administrators, faculty, and staff can contact the Ombuds regarding their campus-related concerns.
We encourage visitors to schedule an appointment by phone at 909-537-5635 or Cell 909-359-5029. Visitors are also welcome to drop-in during business hours. We want individuals to feel comfortable when they visit the office. Depending on the circumstances and willingness of all parties, visitors may bring guests. This option can be discussed at the time of the visitor's initial contact with the office.
When should I contact the Office of the University Ombuds?
Any kind of University-related problem may be brought to the Office by any member of the CSUSB community. You might want to contact the Ombuds when:
- You need an impartial and confidential sounding board.
- You think you have been treated unfairly.
- You are having interpersonal conflicts.
- You want to report a problem but first want to get a sense of possible outcomes or process.
- You have concerns about career advancement and job satisfaction or security.
- You are having problems with institutional non-responsiveness and red-tape.
- You want to discuss a University policy or practice that you think is unfair or problematic.
- You have concerns about procedural fairness or due process.
- You are not sure how to interpret a University policy or procedure.
- You are not sure which University policy applies to your situation.
- You need assistance in identifying the formal channels you would use to file a formal notice with the University.
- You are not sure where else to turn for help and need guidance.
Even if I want to file a formal complaint, can I talk to the Ombuds first?
Yes. While the Ombuds is not authorized to receive formal complaints, the Ombuds can help you better understand processes and potential outcomes before you decide whether to file a complaint. The Ombuds can also help identify alternatives to formal grievance procedures or direct you to the appropriate procedures and office should you wish to file a formal complaint.
What if the informal process does not work?
You are not precluded from pursuing formal remedies if informal approaches through the Ombuds Office do not work. We will remind you of the deadlines for initiating formal options, and we can refer you to those options if necessary.
Does speaking to someone in the Office of Ombuds Services count as formal notice to the University?
No. By only telling a staff member in the Office of Ombuds Services about your situation, you have not formally notified any University official of your conflict, dispute or complaint. In order for the University to take official action to remedy your conflict, dispute, or complaint, you must share it with someone who represents the University. The staff members in the Office of Ombuds Services do not represent the University and therefore cannot receive formal complaints.
Meeting with an ombudsperson does not affect your ability to pursue formal complaints. The Ombuds can help you find the appropriate person to speak to in order to request that the University take some action, if that is what you want. Important rights may be affected by the actual date when formal action is initiated and/or when CSUSB is informed of allegedly wrongful behavior, and in some situations, you may wish to consult with an attorney regarding your rights.