Our Principles

Confidential
The Ombudsman Office is confidential. We will not identify you or discuss your particular concerns with anyone unless you give permission during the course of our informal discussions, and only to the extent that you permit. Any action taken is at the discretion of the ombuds, considering the interests of all parties. Regardless of permission, we do not participate in any formal process. The only exception to confidentiality occurs when we believe that disclosure is necessary to address an imminent risk of serious harm.

This also means we donít keep permanent records. There might be times we take a few notes, but we shred these when we finish working with you.

wang buildingImpartial
Because the Ombudsman Office is independent and reports directly to the President of Stony Brook University, we donít take sides in a situation. The ombudsperson you work with is committed to supporting fair process and open communication, and advocates for that rather than the specific people involved. An advantage of our neutrality is that it can help the ombuds discover something useful to your situation that might have been missed if the ombuds focused solely on advocacy for you.

As designated neutrals, we advocate for fair process, consider the rights and interests of all parties, and do not take sides. We have no decision-making authority and do not judge, discipline, or reward anyone. We have no personal stake in the outcome of any situation.

Informal
Use of the Ombudsman Office is not a substitute for formal procedures, such as filing a grievance. Any communication with us is off-the-record and does not put Stony Brook University on notice of a problem. If you wish to place the University on notice, we can give you information about how to do so. We follow no prescribed sequences of steps, and do not participate in any formal grievance process.

The ombuds staff will work with you by helping sort through whatís not working well, identifying resources and options, and informal discussion off the record. By providing informal help, the Ombudsman Office staff does not participate in any formal processes, and therefore isnít the place to go to give the University official notice of something inappropriate you want to report. We can help you figure out how to do that if youíre unsure, though our emphasis is on opening up communication outside the formal administrative process.

Independent
The Ombudsman Office reports directly to the president for budgetary and administrative purposes and therefore operates outside the primary university structure. This permits work that is free of undue pressure or influence that sometimes can get in the way of addressing your concerns related to the campus community.

Nondisclosure Agreement
By talking with the ombuds officers, you and the ombuds agree that the Ombudsman Office will not disclose or keep records of individually identifiable information; we will not testify or participate in any formal proceeding; communications with the ombuds are privileged, and this privilege is held by the Ombudsman Office and cannot be waived by others.

This agreement fosters confidentiality and helps provide a safe and neutral place for discussing any concern.

The Stony Brook University Ombudsman and Assistant Ombudsman are members of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) and adhere to the IOA Code of Ethics and practice in accordance with the IOA Standards of Practice. For further reference these documents are available through the International Ombudsman Association Web site at www.ombudsassociation.org/ethics and www.ombudsassociation.org/standards.

In addition the Ombudsman Office is required to operate in accordance with the terms of reference in the University Ombudsman Office Charter.