Advocates for fairness
The University of Georgia Ombudspersons are designated individuals who serve as independent, neutral, and informal resources for UGA students, faculty, and staff. Rather than serving as advocates for individual members of the University community, these individuals are advocates for fairness, and they function as a source of information and referral. They assist, to the extent possible, in informally resolving concerns brought to their attention. They serve as third-party information providers who remain neutral while assisting individuals in having their concerns addressed through appropriate channels, including those related to discrimination and harassment.
Ombudspersons supplement, but do not replace, the University’s existing policies and procedures for processing and resolving student, faculty, and staff complaints and grievances. Ombudspersons also do not have direct responsibility for specific administrative processes and procedures. Rather, these individuals provide information and assistance regarding administrative processes and may serve as additional avenues for resolving the concerns of students, faculty, and staff.
More specifically, an Ombudsperson:
- Facilitates communication among relevant parties, acting as a neutral agent;
- Assists in the evaluation of allegations, disputes or concerns, and whether a matter can be resolved informally or requires more formal consideration;
- Informs members of the University community of existing University resources and procedures for addressing particular concerns presented, whether or not the Ombudsperson becomes directly involved in the efforts at resolution;
- Facilitates the expeditious resolution of concerns;
- Keeps the concerned parties informed of the progress of any informal measures that the Ombudsperson takes in endeavoring to resolve the issue presented;
- Recommends to University officials changes to existing policies or procedures that the Ombudsperson deems appropriate;
- Promotes and adheres to the values of fairness, equity, justice and mutual respect at all times.
All communications related to an allegation, concern or other issue reported to Ombudspersons will be kept confidential to the extent legally permissible and consistent with maintaining the safety and public welfare of the campus. In cases where information reported to an Ombudsperson indicates that there may be a violation of the University's non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy [pdf], the Ombudsperson will be obligated to report that information to the NDAH Officer in keeping with that policy. However, unless the factual circumstances indicate a threat to the future safety of an individual or the University community, the Ombudsperson is not required to report the name of, or otherwise identify, sexual assault victims/survivors where confidentiality is requested.
The Student, Faculty, and Staff Ombudspersons will provide information annually to the Equal Opportunity Office (EOO) for an annual report, due September 1, to be submitted by EOO to the President, the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost and the Chair of the Executive Committee of the University Council. The report will discuss trends or patterns in the reporting of issues and concerns by students, faculty and staff and will make recommendations for changes or improvements to existing policies and procedures.
If you have a disability and need assistance to obtain this information in an alternate format, please contact University Public Affairs at 706-542-8163.