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What Does an Ombuds Do?

What is an ombuds and what does an ombuds do?

The main role of the UHM Ombuds Office is to provide confidential, impartial, informal problem-solving assistance to students, faculty and staff. We first listen very carefully and uncritically to whatever you want to tell us about what it is that’s bothering you. After that, a number of different things might take place. Sometimes we will give you the names of people to contact. At other times we may help you to better understand the scope of your problem. We help you think about alternatives and options. We can also be go-betweens and informal fact-finders, or conduct mediated discussions. Whatever we do, an important part of our job is to help you hone the skills and build the confidence you need to deal with problems in the future. It’s also our job to bring troublesome trends to the attention of anyone at the University who might be able to deal with them. We do this in a way that protects the confidentiality of any visitor to our office. The Ombuds Office has access to anyone at Mānoa, including the Chancellor.

Please review our Standards of Practice.

Is the Ombuds Office a place to make an official report or file an official complaint?

No. All communications made to the Ombuds Office are off the record. In some cases important rights may be affected by when formal action is started and by when the University is informed (“put on notice”) of certain bad behavior or conduct. So it is important to understand that speaking with the Ombuds Office does not constitute this kind of notice to the University and will not preserve a visitor’s legal rights.

Please review our Standards of Practice.

A few of the topics you can discuss with us:

· Interpersonal difficulties
· Harassment or discrimination
· Untangling a complicated situation
· Violations of UHM policy
· Workplace disputes
· Bureaucratic runarounds
· Ethical dilemmas
· Cultural misunderstandings
· Conflicts of interest
· Disciplinary actions
· Appropriate ways to frame and discuss issues
· Incivility or rudeness
· Health and safety concerns
· Unprofessional conduct
· Ways to make or seek an apology
· Academic freedom
· Protecting your reputation
· Threats or retaliation

Ombuds offices like ours deal with an enormous variety of issues, so if yours does not fit into the examples listed above, don't let that stop you from coming to see us.