What you tell us stays with us. We work off the record. Because confidentiality is essential to what we do, we won’t tell anyone we’re working with you, unless you specifically request it to help work on your issue. The only exception to this is if the ombudsperson determines that in their judgment there is imminent risk of serious harm to you or someone else. The Ombuds Office isn’t an office of notice, and the ombuds doesn’t have the authority to investigate, but can make suggestions of options to consider in your circumstances. We don’t keep permanent records. Since the visitor voluntarily decides to work with the Ombudsperson, that means neither the visitor nor their representative will call the Ombuds to testify with respect to confidential communication.
Because the Ombuds Office is independent and reports directly, but only nominally, to the president of Lewis & Clark, we don’t 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.
The ombuds staff will work with you by helping sort through what’s not working well, identifying resources and options, and informal discussion off the record. By providing informal help, the Ombuds Office staff does not participate in any formal processes, and therefore isn’t the place to go to give the College official notice of something inappropriate you want to report. We can help you figure out how to do that if you’re unsure, though our emphasis is on opening up communication outside the formal administrative process. Working with the Ombuds staff doesn’t mean you can’t use a formal process.
The Ombuds Office reports directly to the president for budgetary and administrative purposes and therefore is outside the primary college 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.