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OMBUDS SERVICES for FACULTY AND STAFF

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An Ombuds can:

  • Be a sounding board and offer perspective and advice about work-related concerns

  • Provide you with information about how to manage challenging conversations and resolve a matter informally 

  • Answer questions and provide information to help you assess your options (not legal advice)

  • Refer you to the appropriate office to file a formal complaint or grievance

  • Mediate conflicts and facilitate conversations if all participants are willing to do so

An Ombuds cannot:

  • Make or change a University policy, rule or decision

  • Provide legal advice or representation

  • Testify in formal grievance proceedings

  • Conduct investigations or grievance proceedings​​

Contact:

Israela Brill-Cass

 

iabrillcass@fixerrr.com or 508.889.2675

 

Office Location: Russell House, Garden Level

(side door facing Washington Street)

As a member of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA), I subscribe to the IOA’s Code of Ethics and

Standards of Practice (both available in multiple languages).

 

The most important principles of my work as an Ombud are:

 

1. Confidentiality – the purpose of the Ombuds office is to create a safe space for faculty and staff to share their concerns, examine issues and identify and consider potential options.  I’ll hold all communications confidential, which means that I won’t share the name of anyone who speaks with me – in person, via email, phone or video conference – in or outside of the office or share what we discuss unless you give me explicit permission to do so.  The only exception to this confidentiality is if I feel there is an imminent risk of serious harm in which case I’ll notify an appropriate individual or office.

2. Independence – the Ombuds office is independent and outside of Wesleyan’s administrative structure.  As Ombuds, I report directly to President Michael Roth, however because confidentiality is so important, the only “reporting” that I’ll do will be in the form of general check-ins to see if the office is being utilized. Reporting will not include any identifying information about individuals or issues that have been shared with me. 

3. Neutrality/Impartiality - the Ombuds is an impartial third-party whose role is to offer objective assessments of any concerns raised and provide information about what formal processes are available at Wesleyan.  I have no authority to take action or advocate on anyone’s behalf and I can’t compel anyone or any department to respond. 

4. Informality – an Ombuds is an informal resource for faculty and staff, I don’t make decisions on behalf of Wesleyan and I cannot override any decisions or formally advise any individual or office at Wesleyan.   I don’t maintain any permanent records of confidential communications and I can’t participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative process regarding concerns brought to my attention. Formal investigations and grievances are the purview of other offices.  My role is to listen and offer perspective and information only.

How is meeting with the Ombuds different from meeting with other offices at Wesleyan?

The services offered by the Ombuds are intended to compliment other services available at Wesleyan - including formal processes - not replace them. Meeting with the Ombuds is entirely voluntary and conversations are intended to provide you with constructive listening and to help you assess options for resolution, next steps, and/or coaching.  The Ombuds can also facilitate conversations and mediate where all parties are amenable. The Ombuds does not provide legal advice or psychological counseling.

Does speaking with the Ombuds put Wesleyan on notice?

No.  Because the Ombuds is an independent, confidential and impartial resource for faculty and staff at Wesleyan, speaking with the Ombuds even about allegations involving discrimination, violations of law (e.g. Title IX) or criminal activity does not constitute notice to Wesleyan.  Nothing goes "on record" by meeting with the Ombuds and in order to put something on the record or to obligate Wesleyan to respond in some way, you would need to speak with other offices (e.g. Office for Equity & Inclusion or Human Resources). 

How confidential is a conversation with the Ombuds?

Confidentiality is a critical component of Ombuds practice.  No identifying information about individuals requesting meetings or their particular issues or concerns is shared and no detailed records are created.  Short-term working notes to keep track of commitments and follow-ups may be created but they remain confidential. Monthly "reporting" directly to President Roth only captures statistical information regarding hours of use of Ombuds time and in non-identifying, general terms the nature of any trends of concerns to help Wesleyan identify opportunities for systemic improvements.

 

What does NOT remain confidential is information that in the judgment of the Ombuds would create an imminent risk of serious harm to you or to others (this is in line with the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics) or information that is subject to subpoena and/or ordered to be disclosed by a court of appropriate jurisdiction.

How long do appointments usually last?

Generally appointments last between 30-60 minutes but it depends on the nature of the conversation and available time.  If you find that you have more to discuss after the initial meeting or want to schedule a time to have a follow-up conversation, you are free to schedule another appointment.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Because of the confidential nature of meetings and in order to ensure that the Ombuds is available when you'd like to meet, you're strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment rather than drop in. You can schedule a time to meet by clicking on the "Schedule Appointment" button (no log-in or registration needed). If for some reason you're not able to schedule using this method, you can schedule an appointment via email to iabrillcass@fixerrr.com - please mention "Appointment" in the subject line.