Office of the Ombudsperson
The ombuds office at Hampshire College is a resource operating to ensure that all members of the faculty and staff receive fair and equitable treatment. The ombudsperson acts as an impartial and informal source of assistance to those who believe themselves to have been treated unfairly. The ombuds services are confidential,* independent, neutral, and informal.
* There are exceptions to the pledge of confidentiality.
By listening to concerns, the ombudsperson helps visitors identify and explore acceptable solutions to concerns that meet the needs of the visitor and the institution. The ombuds office provides a safe environment for the discussion of issues and concerns: The office does not keep formal College records, perform formal investigations, or advocate for either one party or another, but advocates for fairness.
How can an ombudsperson help?
The ombudsperson can assist in resolving difficult issues by offering a range of services to the staff and faculty of Hampshire College.
The ombudsperson can:
- Listen to your concerns without passing judgment; help you to clarify your thoughts, feelings, and goals; and assist you in creating strategies for resolving problems/conflicts, even if you are not planning to take action.
- Find answers to your questions about policy and procedure or refer you to someone who can.
- Identify and help analyze problems and explore options for addressing them.
- Informally mediate disputes and facilitate discussions between individuals or groups.
- Recommend the review of policies or procedures and track trends that may impact issues of equity and fairness.
- Identify harmful trends and suggest where the College may direct attention to address these problems or issues. Although the ombudsperson has no direct authority to change College policy, the ombudsperson is charged with the responsibility to inform the President and senior leadership of issues and trends that may impact equity and fairness and suggest where administration may need to direct attention to address those issues.
- Educate members of the community in ways to manage conflicts effectively, resolve disputes, and help with team building within the community.
The power of the office of the ombudsperson rests in our ability to listen and inform; there are many things the ombuds office will not do:
- The ombudsperson will not conduct formal investigations.
- The ombudsperson will not make policy.
- The ombudsperson will not adjudicate, arbitrate, or participate in internal or external formal processes (including legal processes).
- The ombudsperson will not breach confidentiality* even with consent.
- The ombudsperson will not provide legal advice.