Frequently-Asked Questions

What does an Ombuds do?

 The Ombuds provides a neutral, confidential, informal, and independent environment to:

  • Listen and discuss questions and concerns in confidence
  • Provide and help evaluate various options to address concerns 
  • Answer questions or help find others who can 
  • Explain University policies and procedures 
  • Facilitate communication between people 
  • Advise individuals about steps to resolve problems informally 
  • Advise individuals about formal and administrative options 
  • Mediate disputes to seek a "win-win" resolution of problems
  • Make appropriate referrals when informal options don't work 
  • Provide an alternative to formal administrative channels, supplementing but not replacing them
  • Provide trends or patterns of problems/complaints to the University President

Is there anything the Ombuds cannot do?

The Ombuds WILL NOT:

  • Replace or circumvent existing channels
  • Direct any University office to change a decision
  • Offer legal advice
  • Make decisions for you
  • Have a stake in outcomes
  • Exact judgment, make binding decisions, mandate policies, or adjudicate issues
  • Impose penalties
  • Be a part of any formal processes such as litigation, disciplinary actions, grievance hearings, or arbitration hearings
  • Advocate for any party to the dispute
  • Address disputes between members of the campus community and private individuals, companies, or organizations not affiliated with Cal Poly Pomona
  • Handle formal grievances, whistleblower, discrimination, or sexual harassment complaints, or legal issues of any kind

When should you visit the Ombuds office?

  • When you want to discuss a sensitive question or issue 
  • When a decision affecting you is given without explanation
  • When you feel you have been treated unfairly 
  • When the decision-making process appears to be stalled
  • When you need help in just getting things started on the road to resolution
  • When you believe your concerns do not fall within any formal or administrative options
  • When you have a situation requiring negotiation or help in facilitating communication 
  • When you are unsure which policies, procedures, or regulations apply in your situation 
  • When you feel a policy, procedure, or regulation has been applied unfairly or erroneously
  • When you are unsure of where to go or what options exist to solve a problem

How can the Ombuds office help you?

  • By carefully listening and helping to analyze the situation 
  • By researching and explaining relevant university policies, procedures, and problem-solving channels 
  • By helping you to identify and evaluate options 
  • By mediating disputes 
  • By initiating non-adversarial, problem-solving discussions with other involved parties (only with your permission)
  • By striving to help students, staff, and faculty receive fair and equitable treatment within the University system  

 Are there disputes the Ombuds Office does not address?

The Ombuds Office does not address disputes between members of the campus community and private individuals, companies or organizations not affiliated with Cal Poly Pomona. Additionally, the Ombuds Office does not handle formal grievances, whistleblower or discrimination or sexual harassment complaints, or legal issues of any kind.

 What will you gain by coming to the Ombuds Office?

  • Insight into a complicated situation 
  • A clearer perspective on your issue or concern 
  • Enhanced ability to deal effectively with a problem 
  • Identification and clarification of options
  • Effective communication skills to resolve interpersonal issues

 What other services does the Ombuds Office provide?

  • Suggest changes in university policies and procedures 
  • Provide workshops  

What does confidentiality mean?

The Ombuds Office will endeavor to maintain the confidentiality of communications, to the extent feasible.  All notes or records of any kind are maintained in a secure location and manner, and will be destroyed once the Ombuds concludes its involvement in the matter. In order to protect the safety of members of the University community, the Ombuds may not be able to maintain the confidentiality of certain disclosures, including but not limited to disclosures regarding public safety, harm to self or others, violations of law, discrimination, or sexual harassment.  If your issue concerns sexual harassment or discrimination and you wish to make a formal complaint, you must seek the services of the Office of Diversity and Compliance.

The Ombuds Office seeks informal resolutions of disputes, issues or concerns and does not take part in any formal actions or proceedings, such as union grievances or lawsuits.  Communication with the Ombuds is not a step in any grievance process nor does it postpone any timelines for filing complaints or grievances.  If a formal process is already in progress, Ombuds services are not available.

Those seeking the services of the Ombuds Office shall not request the Ombuds or office staff to participate in any legal or administrative proceeding including, but not limited to, depositions or testimony and shall maintain the confidentiality of all dealings with the Ombuds Office unless compelled to do so by court order or applicable law.  The Ombuds does not contact or communicate with attorneys or have any other involvement in the matter once legal steps have been initiated.  No confidential or sensitive information is communicated by e-mail or voice mail.