Ombuds Reaches Out to Campus Community

By Albert Perez

Often many Cal Poly students run into campus related problems,
from trouble with class registration and grades, to personal
conflicts with classmates, roommates, co-workers and
instructors.

In most cases these individuals are in the dark as to how to
handle such problems, and are unaware of the resources and options
available to them.

Intending to address these inconveniences, Cal Poly President
Michael Ortiz recently established The Office of the University
Ombuds.

“This is the first step to take if you don’t know what to do,”
said Ombuds Office Director Glenda C. Brock, regarding the
assistance the office offers.

The purpose of the department can be best described by the
definition of the word Ombuds.

According to Brock, the word Ombuds describes “an individual who
provides a neutral, confidential, informal and independent
environment to listen and discuss issues or concerns and provides
options to assist in resolving the issue or concern.”

The office is an independent campus entity with no connection to
any other department. It is not just open to students but to
faculty and staff as well, providing individuals with answers to
campus related questions about academics and campus life, and the
proper guidance needed in order for them to resolve any issue
brought forth by them.

“We’re ready to handle most any situation. That is the whole
purpose of our office,” said Brock.

The office generally deals with situations that range from
disagreement over grades to housing issues and from interpersonal
conflicts to co-worker difficulties. Clarification of school
policies or procedures is also provided.

It is not intended to direct any University office to change a
decision and individuals must make their own decisions.

“This is a sort of a help desk where they can know what their
options are and what they can do,” said Brock. “We don’t resolve
it. The student or whoever comes in here, resolves their issue, we
just tell them about ways that they can resolve it.”

Since the office only handles campus related issues, it does not
address disputes between members of the campus community and
private individuals, companies or organizations not affiliated with
the school.

Disputes involving a formal process like with unions,
disciplinary offices or legal suits are also not covered, according
to Brock.

Sensitive issues are also handled by the office.

According to Brock, these types of issues can be situations
where an individual feels they have been treated unfairly or have
been discriminated against, or was told something that upset him or
her or hurt his or her feelings.

Aside from providing students with answers and pointing them in
the right direction, the office teaches students how to communicate
when resolving an issue.

Brock feels knowing how to communicate and knowing proper
language to use is essential in problem resolution, especially when
students have grievances with faculty members.

“I try to help the student know how to speak to the faculty
member. I think that helps a lot,” said Brock.

According to Brock, the office is confidential and no names are
taken.

“We do not keep records of anybody’s name or the details of
their case, the records that we keep are just the general issue
that they brought forth, and whether they’re male or female.”

“I do report to the president about the trends that are going on
campus, if there’s something he needs to know about.”

However if an issue regards a matter of public safety,
confidentiality is not an option.

“If somebody came to me and said they where going to hurt
themselves or hurt others, I would not keep that confidential. I
will have to report that with the police,” said Brock.

Overall, Brock feels the office gives individuals who seek help
a clear perspective in assessing and solving their issues that they
seek help on.

“We’re trying to eliminate students having to go from one place
to another, without knowing what to do,” said Brock. “So we’re
really hoping that students will come here first so we could tell
them, ‘You could do this and do that, and these are the things you
could do.'”

Albert Perez can be reached by e-mail at news@thepolypost.com or
by phone at (909) 869-3747.

Ombuds Reaches Out to Campus Community

Ombuds Reaches Out to Campus Community

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