The ombudsperson role has a long and honorable history in Europe and North America as a means of protecting against improper treatment, unfairness and bias. The Ombudsperson at Stanford University School of Medicine strives to provide neutral, confidential and informal complaint handling services for members of the School community. The Ombudsperson practices in accordance with ethical standards prescribed by The Ombudsman Association and The University and College Ombuds Association.
The Ombudsperson specifically assists visitors to the office by listening with objectivity and providing a confidential ear to any concern related to work or study at the School. The office is set up to provide a visitor with a “safe” place to discuss a problem with the assurance that no action will be taken nor will the fact of the visit or anything the visitor says be disclosed to anyone.
The role includes:
- Listening and discussing questions, concerns and complaints
- Assistance in evaluating possible options
- Expanding the number of options available
- Explanation of University and School policies and procedures
- Referral to appropriate individuals or offices
- Information gathering on an informal basis
- Coaching for individuals to resolve problems on their own
- Informal facilitation of meetings between individuals in conflict
- Mediation of conflicts
- Helping visitors to bring complaints to others with permission only
- Referrals to formal grievance when informal processes have been exhausted (such as to file a complaint or grievance)
The role does not include:
- Adjudication or participation in formal grievance processes
- Testimony in any court initiated proceeding
- Administrative or academic decision making for others
- Determinations of guilt or wrongdoing of anyone involved
- Investigations of a formal nature
- Providing legal advice
- Psychological counseling or therapy
- Serving as an office of notice for Stanford University or the School of Medicine, or as a place to file a complaint or grievance or to register a concern.