Office of the Student Ombudsman
Throughout your academic journey, there may come a time when you encounter an unresolved dispute or an unsettling discussion and feel uncertain as to how to reach a resolution. During these times, students need someone to whom they can turn. That is why the Office of Students Affairs in the School of Medicine is pleased to provide a Student Ombudsman to serve as an alternate and informal pathway to conflict resolution. The Ombudsman, also commonly known as the Ombudsperson or Ombuds, is guided by an unyielding code of ethics. The fundamental responsibility of the Student Ombudsman is to offer a safe, confidential, and neutral environment to discuss individual, group, and systemic problems and to evaluate options for resolution without fear of retribution.
As an alternate and informal pathway to conflict resolution, the ombudsman is committed to adhering to the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice:
Confidentiality: The Ombudsman holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm to self or others.
Informality: The Ombudsman, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention but can advise students on the process of lodging a formal complaint.
Neutrality and Impartiality: The Ombudsman, as a designated neutral, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombudsman does not engage in any situation, which could create a conflict of interest. Existing outside of formal channels, the Ombudsman does not advocate for a particular office or for any specific individual, rather the ombudsman advocates for a fair process and a fair outcome.
- Independence: The Ombudsman is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree. The Ombudsman holds no other position within the organization, which might compromise independence. The Ombudsman has no influence over the student’s academic endeavors, including but not limited to writing official LSUHSC recommendation letters, formal academic evaluations, and grades.
What is the Role of the Ombudsman?
- Listen to concerns
- Gather information
- Informally mediate and investigate complaints
- Analyze, identify, and evaluate options
- Explain campus policies and procedures
- Assist students in navigating formal reporting channels
- Advocate for fairness
- Recommend policy changes to alleviate chronic problem areas
Due to the delicate nature of the ombudsman’s role, a few activities and functions are prohibited from its scope of duties. The ombudsman will not make binding decisions, provide legal advice, compel any person or department to implement recommendations, participate in a formal investigation or a formal resolution process, maintain official files on behalf the organization, and take action without express permission from the student.
Concerns Commonly Discussed with the Ombudsman
- Conflicts with or grievances about faculty, staff, or other students
- Factors affecting enrollment or academic success
- Physical/Mental Health issues
- Academic policy
- Grade appeals
- Academic integrity topics
- Financial concerns
The Ombudsman is available at any stage for advice or assistance in resolving academic complaints. Should you need help, please do not hesitate to contact the Student Ombudsman for the School of Medicine. Please click here to learn more about the process of working with the Student Ombudsman.