Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The practice of ombudsing started with 19th century Scandinavian public officials who were appointed to investigate citizen complaints against governmental agencies. Today, organizational ombudsmen are often referred to as "designated neutrals." As such, they do not advocate for any individual or cause, but for fairness and equity. The University Ombudsman is a gender-neutral term.
Ombudsmen provide confidential, informal assistance to individuals and groups, and help identify problems and facilitate the fair resolution of problems that arise in their organizations. They serve as an information and communication resource, upward feedback channel, dispute resolution practitioner, and change agent.
Ombudsmen encourage the airing and resolution of both individual and systematic problems. They help ensure fairness in process so that any kind of problem can receive a fair and impartial review.
The Ombudsman is a source of confidential advice, information about University policies and procedures, and, where appropriate, mediation and conflict management.
The Ombudsman empowers individuals and groups to resolve problems and conflicts and develop positive strategies for change.
The Ombudsman is authorized by the President of the University to investigate and to make recommendations, but has no authority to make or reverse a decision or policy.
Any member of the campus community including students, faculty, administrators, or staff can contact the Office free of charge. This includes all East Campus (Stony Brook Medicine, Health Sciences Center) individuals, Southampton and Manhattan campuses and off-site offices. Stony Brook Medicine Patients will be referred to Patient Advocacy .
The Ombudsman Office does not replace other offices or functions at the University, but rather works collaboratively with other individuals and offices of the University as a particular problem or situation requires.
The Ombudsman Office provides conflict resolution approaches to workplace issues and related policies and practices. For assistance with personal issues such as stress, health concerns, substance abuse, or family concerns that may be affecting job or academic performance, employees can contact the EAP Office and students may contact the Counseling Center.
The Ombudsman has knowledge and experience about ways to work successfully within and through Stony Brook’s complex structure. The Ombudsman knows how to use this knowledge and experience to help individuals solve problems.
Specifically the Ombudsman can:
• Explain University policies and procedure and help you use them.
• Advise you of options and help you pursue them.
• Refer you to the right person and arrange a meeting.
• Follow up to make sure your concern is resolved.
• Recommend changes to the University to correct problem areas.
Ombuds professionals are obligated to keep contacts and conversations confidential unless given permission otherwise. In almost all cases, it is the decision of the visitor whether the Ombudsman will do anything other than listen. The essential value of assistance is based on the visitor’s trust that s/he will be able to speak without fear of disclosure or reprisal. The only exceptions to confidentiality occurs when the Ombudsman believes that disclosure is necessary to address an imminent risk of serious harm and where required by Title IX and other state and federal laws .
No, this is not an "office of record" at the University. The Ombudsman is a "designated neutral" who functions independently of regular University administration and management. If you wish to pursue formal channels, the Ombudsman will be happy to refer you to the appropriate University office(s).