The Office of the Ombuds of Brandeis University, “Ombuds Office” provides support in helping all members of the Brandeis community, referred to hereafter as “visitors”, resolve issues. The Office serves as a resource that is independent, impartial/neutral, informal and confidential.
The Office was established in January 2018 at the recommendation of the Brandeis Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The concept of a fully-staffed office that would serve the entire campus had its roots in Ford Hall 2015 and the demand by students that there be an Ombuds service for students. Then-President Lisa Lynch appointed several campus employees to act as internal Ombuds for students; this Charter signifies the institutionalization of that effort and broadens the scope of the Office’s services to all members of the campus community.
The Office is presently staffed on a part-time basis by two professional Ombuds. Don Greenstein and Elena Lewis are an Ombuds team that serves the entire Brandeis community. These staff are available to all students, faculty, staff, alumni and anyone who has a situation, related issue or conflict involving Brandeis University or a fellow employee, staff members, student or alum. The Ombuds staff practice in accordance with the professional organizational standards of the International Ombuds Association.
The Office’s primary purpose is to provide a confidential resource for visitors to which they can bring their concerns and questions, and can get assistance in problem-solving and considering their best options for handling a difficult situation. The Ombuds Office is an alternative to formal channels of dispute resolution. The Office also provides information to University leaders on trends, policies or procedures, and patterns of issues that raise concerns so that they may be prevented from recurring or escalating.
The Ombuds’ response is tailored to each visitor’s specific situation and concerns. The Ombuds perform a variety of functions in carrying out their duties and responsibilities. They:
- listen, providing a respectful and safe place for visitors to discuss issues;
- help individuals to fully understand their concerns and consider all appropriate options;
- explain University policies and processes;
- make referrals to others;
- coach visitors on self-help techniques;
- engage in shuttle diplomacy;
- conduct informal conflict resolution through varied techniques, including but not limited to mediation/informal dispute resolution;
- facilitate conversations;
- employ any other method appropriate and desired by the visitor that is within the standards of practice of the Ombuds Office.
The goal of the Ombuds Office is to help people find resolutions that work for themselves in the least restrictive means and as easily as possible. The Office is empowered to provide informal assistance only. Formal actions are managed by other Brandeis University offices or officials.
Once a person meets with a member of the Ombuds team, some visitors may choose to give permission to take an action that reveals their identity. Others may request that the Ombuds hold all information and actions in confidence so their identity is not revealed. Except in very limited circumstances the Ombuds will honor the wishes of the visitors with respect to disclosing any identifiable information.
Code of Ethics
The Brandeis Ombuds Office will adhere to the International Ombuds Association (IOA) Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
The IOA Code of Ethics states:
“The ombudsman shall be truthful and act with integrity, shall foster respect for all members of the organization he or she serves, and shall promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of those organization's practices, processes and policies.”