The office is utilizing, with a few changes, a great David Letterman-style top ten list created by the University of Iowa on “reasons why people don’t consult the ombuds office.” This is handy because it summarizes what the office does and hopefully encourages everyone on campus to contact the office either with an issue, to brainstorm possible solutions to a problem, or perhaps just to say hi.
Top Ten Reasons Why People Don’t Consult the Ombuds Office
10. I didn’t know that the Office of the Ombudsperson existed.
Wellesley College has had an Ombuds Office since 2008, and we work hard to get the message out about the office. Still, there are people on campus who don’t know we exist and don’t know we serve the entire College (staff, students and faculty). The office is in an out-of-the-way spot on the 3rd floor of Clapp Library, making it both private for visitors but also a little difficult to find!
9. I don’t know what the Ombuds Office does.
People tend to think we only deal with major problems, but we are available to help with most issues and we can help you sort through options, do role-plays of difficult conversations, help identify resources on campus that can assist you further, etc. Other services are facilitating conversations among 2 or more people, conducting trainings in mediation and navigating difficult conversations, and conducting mediations. Additional services are available, such as if a group wants to learn about restorative justice.
8. My issue is too small; the Ombuds Office only deals with crises.
We encourage visitors to call us early and often: the earlier the better and the smaller the issue the better, since we have a better chance of helping address matters that way. It’s true to the old-fashioned phrase “a stitch in time saves nine” and it is always better to get a matter straightened out early on.
7. Human Resources—or the Dean’s Office—or Title IX/Diversity—is already involved.
It’s great if you have already been working with an office on campus. If you feel like you could benefit from knowing about additional resources and/or if you would like to speak to a confidential, neutral office specializing in additional problem solving, you may wish to speak with us.
6. I should be able to solve this on my own.
Many people think they are being weak or ineffective if they reach out for a little assistance. However, it shows strength if you consult with others in order to fully understand options and resources. Additionally, we’re confidential: no one will ever know you called us.
5. I don’t believe the Ombuds Office is confidential.
You can believe it and you can trust us. We don’t talk with anyone about our visitors unless you give us written permission (exceptions: threat of physical harm to someone or requirements by court or law).
4. I don’t want the way I’ve handled the situation to be “second-guessed” or criticized.
We may refer you to policies, procedures, best practices, other offices, etc., but we’re not judgmental. Call/come by with anything, and we’ll help you figure out your options.
3. Once I call the Office of the Ombudsperson, the situation will be out of my control.
The situation remains in your control because the office will not take any action without our visitor’s permission; the exception is as stated above in #5.
2. I don't want to “air my dirty laundry.”
Sometimes merely talking about an issue—venting—helps a great deal. Using a neutral, confidential and impartial person as a sounding board can both help you feel better as well as assist you in coming up with ways to handle that “laundry.” We may find that one of your best options is for you to talk with a professional counselor to help you deal with handling serious issues.
1. I am afraid that my supervisor/department chair/RA will find out that I contacted the Ombuds Office and see it as breaking the “chain of command,” resulting in me getting in trouble.
Again, because of our confidentiality, no one will know we were contacted. Plus, this office is not even in a “chain of command” because it is an informal resource that does not advocate for anyone. Coming to the Ombuds Office is a good idea, whether it is at the beginning, middle, or towards the end of a problematic situation because it allows you to view it from 10,000 feet and gain a bit of perspective.
Hopefully now you know that you can consult with the Ombuds Office about practically anything, that it is confidential, neutral, impartial and equitable. Visit 301 Clapp Library, call x3385 or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time and we hope to see you soon.
 Except those that are prohibited by a collective bargaining agreement and those that require professional assistance.