University Ombuds

Ways in Which the Ombuds Office Can Help

The University Ombuds has skill and experience in conflict resolution, conflict coaching, facilitation, informal mediation, negotiation, and training. The Ombuds Office offers a confidential, informal, neutral, and independent place to have a quiet conversation, work out how to navigate a situation or the organization, or manage and solve conflicts/concerns.

Ways in Which the Ombuds Office *Can* Help 

There a number of ways in which the Ombuds Office can help you, including by:

  • Providing a safe and confidential forum to surface individual and group issues
  • Listening and helping to clarify underlying issues and interests
  • Aiding in talking through thoughts and feelings about a touchy or thorny situation
  • Helping to think through the most appropriate strategies and approaches to an ongoing dispute
  • Assisting in developing and evaluating options or courses of action, and thinking through how to pursue them 
  • Offering an impartial perspective
  • Thinking through an agenda for a meeting to be efficient and constructive
  • Assisting in developing a structure for a difficult conversation or meeting; helping a visitor prepare for a negotiation
  • Looking into a problem informally (with permission from the visitor)
  • Providing information regarding policies, procedures, services and programs
  • Coaching and role-playing to help provide conflict management skills and enable the visitor to manage the issue themselves
  • Identifying appropriate resources or services inside and outside of Brown
  • Facilitating discussions and/or informally mediating conversations, voluntarily agreed to by the parties, to resolve issues that might otherwise escalate into formal grievances or legal proceedings
  • Providing shuttle diplomacy by talking with parties involved in a matter separately, going back and forth between them, to help resolve a conflict
  • Collecting and evaluating data on emerging trends and patterns while safeguarding anonymity and confidentiality
  • Providing upward feedback regarding trends to appropriate stakeholders — while protecting the confidentiality of individuals — to support positive change
  • Training on conflict management topics for both small and large groups
  • Utilizing summary data to create annual or special reports
  • Proposing recommendations for positive systemic and organizational change (based upon analyzing data)
  • Serving as a resource to committees and groups on conflict management matters and trends/issues seen in the Ombuds Office that relate to the employee/student experience

Ways the in Which the Ombuds Office Can *Not* Help 

Importantly, the Ombuds Office is prohibited by the International Ombudsman Association's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice from doing the following:

  • Advocating for either party in a dispute; taking sides
  • Making, changing, or setting aside policies
  • Representing individuals or groups in formal hearings, processes, or procedures
  • Addressing matters that involve the terms and conditions of employment or are within the scope of collective bargaining
  • Providing legal advice or psychological counseling
  • Rendering judgments, investigating complaints, or making decisions on issues brought to the office
  • Acting as a witness in a formal grievance or process
  • Accepting notice on behalf of the University
The mission of the Ombuds Office is to help foster and support a respectful, ethical, and equitable working, learning, and living environment for the diverse members of the Brown community.
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