There are four essential principles that define the role of an ombuds in any organization, and specifically that of the Boise State Faculty Ombuds Office. The principles are based on the best practices of the International Ombuds Association (specific adaptations of these are discussed in greater detail in the Charter for the Faculty Ombuds Office.)
All contacts, conversations, and information exchanged with the ombuds are confidential. Neither the identity of the visitor nor substance of the conversation will be disclosed without the consent of the visitor involved and the ombuds. Confidentiality is the privilege of the ombuds and cannot be waived by any party. There are limits to confidentiality, such as when disclosure is necessary to protect someone from harm, when child abuse is indicated, or when otherwise required by law.
Ombuds processes and outcomes are informal, aimed at resolving problems at the lowest level possible. Consultations are conducted “off the record.” The Ombuds Office has no decision-making authority and maintains no records (other than statistical data). The ombuds does not participate in formal hearings. Use of the office is strictly voluntary. Individuals cannot be sanctioned for using – or not using – the Ombuds Office.
Consultations with the ombuds do not constitute “notice” to the university. Persons wanting to establish “notice” to the university should contact an administrator or administrative office, or they should initiate a formal proceeding. The ombuds will provide information on who to contact and how to use administrative or grievance procedures for persons wanting to establish a formal record or who want formal consideration of their complaint. Individuals using the services of the Ombuds Office retain their rights to all formal procedures ordinarily available to them.
When working with the ombuds, no personal information is retained or used for subsequent formal proceedings. The ombuds will not serve as a witness nor offer testimony in any formal proceeding, unless required by law.
The ombuds does not take sides on an issue nor represents or advocate on behalf of any party. Rather, it is the role of the ombuds to consider the facts, rights, interests, and safety of all parties involved in a search for a fair resolution to a problem. The ombuds advocates for fairness and justice.
The ombuds avoids situations in which there may be conflicts of interest. Thus, he/she maintains no personal stake in the outcome of any dispute.
The ombuds is independent of all university structures, exercising autonomy regarding his/her responsibilities. The Boise State Faculty Ombuds Office reports to the Provost for administrative purposes only.