Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions of the University Ombuds Office. We encourage all interested individuals to contact us with any questions or concerns about the office. Also, please check out our Office Brochure.

Who can contact the University Ombuds Office?
University students, administrators, faculty, and staff can contact the Ombuds regarding their campus related concerns.
We encourage visitors to schedule an appointment, by phone at 541-737-7029, with the University Ombuds. However, visitors may drop-in during normally scheduled office hours. We are located in 116 Waldo Hall (Map). To schedule an appointment by email please contact Donetta Sheffold, the Ombuds Services Coodinator, at d.sheffold@oregonstate.edu. 
We want individuals to feel comfortable when they visit the office. Depending on the circumstances and willingness of all parties, visitors can bring guests. This option can be discussed at the time of the visitor’s initial contact with the office.

Does it cost money to visit the University Ombuds Office?
The University Ombuds Office is a free resource to all members of the OSU community.

Are all conversations with the University Ombuds Office confidential?          
Conversations with our office are considered confidential, and we will normally not disclose any part of your conversation without your permission. However, confidentiality cannot be promised in matters relating to child abuse, if there is imminent risk of serious harm, threats to public safety, or if compelled by a court of law. We do not maintain identifying records. We are not an office of record. Speaking to anyone in the University Ombuds Office does not constitute legal notice to the University that a problem, concern, or complaint exists. You must pursue alternative complaint avenues if you wish to obligate the University to respond in any way.

How is the University Ombuds Office different than other conflict management offices and resources?
The University Ombuds office is always an informal option. Other conflict resolution offices may require a formal process. Our services are visitor initiated. All processes and strategies are used at the discretion of the visitor. The University Ombuds Office is independent of all other University offices and decision-making practices. Our Office does not make administrative decisions and does not have authority to change disciplinary action. If you aren’t sure where to take your concern, the Ombuds is a safe place to start. For more information about how we are different click here!

Who does the University Ombuds report to?
The University Ombuds Office (UOO) is independent of ordinary line and staff structures and exercises autonomy regarding its responsibilities. The UOO reports to the University President for administrative and budgetary matters, and trends affecting the University climate.

When are other resources more effective?
We will listen to your concerns, and make you aware of all of your options and resources.  If your concern requires a formal process or specialist to assist you, we will help refer you to another office. 

What if the informal process does not work?
You are not precluded from pursuing formal remedies if informal approaches through the University Ombuds Office do not work. We can refer you to your formal options if necessary.

What is mediation?
Sometimes the most effective way to resolve a conflict is to bring the parties together.  Mediation is a process using a neutral third party, trained in conflict resolution, to facilitate an effective and productive dialogue, help clarify issues, and assist in generating options for resolution.  Mediators help parties reach their own agreement, but do not make a decision regarding the outcome of a dispute or enforce/monitor agreements. For mediation to be effective, parties need to be active participants in the process. Mediation through the Ombuds Office is informal and any agreements reached by the parties are voluntary and non-binding.