A Message from the Ombudsman’s Office
The Office of the Ombudsman is a welcoming and safe environment. It was established 2022 as a place to bring your concerns, evaluate your situation and identify your options for resolution. The Office services are strictly confidential, and no identifying records of students are maintained. The Ombudsman does not get involved in or report to any formal processes or conduct formal investigations. The Ombudsman is independent and impartial. The services provided by the Office of the Ombudsman are available to all enrolled students of SUNY Oneonta.
Serving as SUNY Oneonta’s designated impartial student advocate, the University Ombudsman's primary responsibility is to provide independent, confidential, informal and impartial assistance to the campus community. The University Ombudsman assists individual and student groups in the management of conflict and the resolution of problems. Collaborative dispute resolution is encouraged whenever possible and mediation services are available on request.
The University Ombudsman is an impartial advocate for fairness and equity and does not take sides on behalf of any individual or cause. While maintaining impartiality, the Ombudsman regularly makes recommendations to university officials regarding policies, practices and procedures.
The Ombudsman aids students through informal means only. As an independent, neutral, confidential and informal resource, the Office of the University Ombudsman does not accept legal notice for SUNY Oneonta. If you wish to go on record about a problem or put the University on notice, the University Ombudsman can offer information on how to do so. The University Ombudsman also provides referrals to other offices and services that may help you address your concern.
International Ombudsman Association
The Office of the University Ombudsman operates according to the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, and serves all members of the SUNY Oneonta community. Individuals who visit the Office of the Ombudsman are advised of these Standards of Practice and considered to have agreed to the tenets therein. As a result, visitors acknowledge and accept that the Ombudsman will not disclose or keep records of individually identifiable information or testify at or participate in any formal proceeding.
The Ombudsman assists students, faculty, and staff in identifying and evaluating options for resolving and managing conflicts, provides mediation services, conducts workshops on conflict management, and makes referrals to other appropriate university and community resources. The office is neutral and independent of the administration. Its function can be described less as advocacy and more as achieving fairness. The Ombudsman is easily accessible as a confidential sounding board and source of assistance.
The office is centrally located on campus at: 119 Morris Conference Center.
Appointments are strongly encouraged. Business hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Appointments can also be arranged outside of regular business hours. Book an appointment online.
Office of the University Ombudsman
119 Morris Complex
108 Ravine Pkwy
Oneonta, NY 13820
Telephone: (607) 436-3291
Please note that email is not appropriate for confidential communications.
The Office of the University Ombudsman is available to all students, faculty and staff affiliated with SUNY Oneonta. Appointments are offered via Teams, telephone or in person.
The Ombudsman holds the identity and all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so, except as required by law, or where, in the judgment of the Ombudsman, there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.
Anytime. You may speak to the Ombudsman before, during or after formal action is taken. Individuals often find it helpful to explore options and strategies with the Ombudsman confidentially before taking more formal steps. You do not need to exhaust other resources before approaching the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman may be helpful in a variety of situations. An individual may seek assistance when he or she:
- Needs a confidential sounding board to discuss a problem
- Thinks there is unfair treatment
- Has a question about a policy or protocol related to a situation
- Becomes engaged in conflict
By operating informally, the Ombudsman can assist students in several ways. The Ombudsman can:
- Provide information on university policies and practices
- Provide information on how to make the University aware of a particular problem
- Discuss and assist the student in evaluating available options
- Refer the student to the proper authority to resolve the situation
- Facilitate constructive dialogue
- While maintaining confidentiality, provide upward feedback to the administration (or others in authority) when a systemic issue or trend occurs
The Ombudsman offers assistance through informal means only, and is not an advocate in grievance procedures, Community Standards procedures or any other formal process. Additionally, the Ombudsman does not conduct investigations or overrule decisions made by another University official. Finally, as an informal resource, the Ombudsman is not authorized to accept formal complaints for SUNY Oneonta. If you want to make the University aware of a particular problem, the Ombudsman can refer you to the appropriate office or individual.
No, the Ombudsman operates informally. The office does not duplicate existing processes such as grievance procedures, judicial hearings, or other formal procedures. The Ombudsman may look into whether proper procedures were followed and bring to the attention of those in authority gaps and inadequacies in existing procedures.