Terms of Reference

The Ombuds Office is an independent, informal, neutral, and confidential resource for faculty, administrators and staff at The College of Wooster. The Ombuds listens to people’s concerns and can offer information about College policies and procedures, make referrals to other services and provide conflict management services as appropriate. The Ombuds Office is a place where members of the faculty, administration and staff can communicate issues of concern without fear of reprisal; the Ombuds Office offers a place for people to seek guidance on ways to address actual or potential inequities, and, if they wish it, to do so anonymously.

The Ombuds works informally and, while it can make recommendations for policy and structural changes based on its assessments, it does not have the power to change policy or set aside administrative decisions (those formal processes within the College include bias incident reports, filing of grievances, etc.). The Ombuds Office conducts informal but not formal investigations, does not serve as an advocate or participate in legal processes; and the Ombuds Office is not a place to give notice to the College. The power of the Ombuds Office rests in its ability to listen and inform the President, the CDEIO, and other administrative officers with the aim of facilitating fair and equitable solutions to issues and concerns.

To function effectively, the Ombuds maintains the confidentiality of communications with those who use the office. The Ombuds Office will not disclose the names, departments or details of an issue, without permission. The only exceptions to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm. The Ombuds Office will have confidentiality for purposes of Title IX regulations. The Ombuds Office does not keep records identifying visitors. Records kept by the Office include only statistical data for annual reports and making recommendations to The College.

Communications with the Ombuds Office are therefore considered private, confidential, and privileged. The Ombuds Office does not keep permanent records of private communications. The records kept by the Office include only statistical information for analyzing and the reporting of trends and recommendations to the College. All other information is regularly destroyed.

The Ombuds Office is a voluntary service outside of the regular channels of communication and reporting. The Ombuds Office reports to the President and to the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a manner that is independent and outside of the established management structures of the College.

People who use the service will be considered to have agreed to abide by these principles.