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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is an Ombuds?

An Ombuds is a neutral party who provides confidential and informal assistance in resolving conflicts or disputes. The word Ombuds is derived from a Swedish world commonly translated as a representative of the people.

Who are the ISU Ombuds?

The ISU Ombuds are faculty and staff nominated by the peers and appointed by the ISU President for a two-year term, which may be renewable following a nomination/application and review process. The Idaho State University Committee will operate under the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics as described by the International Ombudsman Association, (IOA). The Ombuds Coordinator has many years of experience with problem solving, communication, coaching, and human resource management.

What is the purpose of the Ombuds Committee?

Individual ISU Ombuds are members of the Ombuds Committee. ISU Ombuds are diverse in race, gender, and employee classification. They offer a vast experience and knowledge with problem solving, communication, and ISU Policies and Procedures. The main goal of the ISU Ombuds is to help faculty and staff manage conflict effectively by providing information and generating options for problem solving.

The committee was formed to offer alternative modes of dispute resolution rather than internal grievance procedures or litigation. The ISU Ombuds is a network of individuals from all areas on campus, including Ombuds representation on the Idaho Falls and Meridian campuses. ISU Ombuds are prepared to deal with many types of problems and may use informal mediation and/or other problem-solving techniques to facilitate communication and problem solving resolution between disputing parties where appropriate.

Who can call an Ombuds?

All ISU employees, faculty or staff, have access to any of our ISU Ombuds. It is not required that a faculty member meet with a faculty Ombuds. This also applies to staff. An employee can meet with whichever ISU Ombuds they feel most comfortable with.

How do I contact an Ombuds?

You can contact the Ombuds Coordinator, Stacey Marshall, at 282-3081 or marsstac@isu.edu for information on individual Ombuds, or you can contact one of the Ombuds directly through email or phone. See Ombuds contact information on the main ISU Ombuds website.

What can the Ombuds do to assist me?

  • Listen to concerns
  • Assist in development of options or strategies
  • Refer visitor to appropriate resources
  • Assist in surfacing issues
  • Act as a facilitator between you and the other person in the conflict
  • Act as an intermediary or practice shuttle diplomacy
  • Act as a coach to assist you in handling the issue yourself

Can the Ombuds give me legal advice?

Any member of the ISU Ombuds committee can assist you in identifying University appropriate procedures or policies, point you to other departments or individuals at ISU that can help, and discuss options or strategies for resolving your conflict or concerns; however, they cannot provide legal advice or services.

Will the Ombuds be my spokesperson and represent me?

The Ombuds are neutral, third parties. They do not advocate for the university or the employee. They facilitate communication to assist individuals in solving their own problems. The Ombuds can be a facilitator between parties if both parties agree, but they cannot advocate for either party.

Will my conversations with an Ombuds be confidential?

The Ombuds will not voluntarily disclose information provided by employees (including Ombuds participants) without the employee's explicit permission, except in the following situations when an Ombuds, A) believes there is a reasonable risk of serious personal injury to anyone or future criminal activity, B) has knowledge of past criminal activity, C) where information is legally required to be disclosed.

If the complaint provides evidence of illegal discrimination, sexual harassment, and/or a Title IX violations, the Ombuds will immediately consult with the Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Diversity for appropriate action.

Is the Ombuds considered an "Office of Notice"?

An "Office of Notice" is a formal channel for reporting. Communication with an ISU Ombuds and the Ombuds Committee are informal and off the record. They do not constitute formal "notice" to Idaho State University of alleged, actual, or perceived inappropriate behavior by Idaho State University employees, unless required by law. Individual ISU Ombuds can refer employees to offices that can "receive notice" for the institution such as Human Resources, and Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Diversity.

How is working with an Ombuds different that going to the Human Resource office or the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Diversity Office?

These two offices are formal channels for reporting and are considered an "Office of Notice". If you want to initiate a formal complaint or to have your concerns documented, you must go through these formal channels. If you want to have an informal, confidential conversation, contact a member of the ISU Ombuds Committee.

To Whom do the Ombuds report?

The individual ISU Ombuds operate independently. The ISU Ombuds Coordinator reports to the ISU President, Provost, and Vice President of Finance and Administration but will only be required to provide aggregate data for program assessment. An ISU Ombuds will not voluntarily disclose outside the Ombuds Committee, information provided by employees, (including Ombuds participants) without the employee's explicit permission except as provided in the program descriptions. This will not preclude the Ombuds committee from keeping aggregate program usage data for ongoing program assessment purposes. Individual Ombuds will not retain notes on meetings with employees.

What if the informal process doesn't work?

An employee is free at any time to pursue formal channels and remedies. The ISU Ombuds will refer you to appropriate formal options.

How can I benefit from speaking with an Ombuds?

Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them. You choose your own path to problem resolution. An ISU Ombuds can assist with directing the employee to ISU Policies and Procedures, and problem solving discussions, but ultimately, the employee makes his/her own decisions and actions to pursue. No one will know that you spoke to an ISU Ombuds unless you give express permission.

Types of Issues an ISU Ombuds can assist you with?

  • Interpersonal relations
  • Communication breakdowns between supervisor and employee or between employees
  • Employment issues that could affect relationships and success
  • Workplace issues
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Faculty relationships
  • Supervisor concern over non-responsive employee
  • Policies and procedures violations
  • Personality conflicts that may affect employment
  • Clarification
  • Unfair treatment
  • Unethical behavior