Making use of the ombuds

When facing the problems of student life, sometimes help is needed. Knowing where to go for help makes finding a solution easier.

UVU has an ombuds program to help students with any problem.

Ashley Robertson, UVU ombuds, said that the most important right students have is access to an ombuds. Robertson, a third-year UVU student, has worked in five different school departments and has seen different student issues occur that have helped her as the ombuds.

An ombuds is a neutral party who knows student rights and is trained to help students. The ombuds is part of the Judicial Affairs Department, which is located in the Student Center in room 107.

Anything students talk about with the ombuds is confidential. No records are taken of visits, and ombuds cannot be subpoenaed to testify in court about anything they have been told. The only exception is when students present a threat to themselves or someone else.

Issues that students frequently talk about with the ombuds include any type of harassment, housing problems, roommate disputes, student rights concerns, grading issues, unfair teachers or any other problem a student might have at school.

However, there are a few things ombuds cannot do.

Ombuds cannot advocate for a student, school or any other party. If they were to advocate for someone, they would not be neutral.

They also cannot help a student who is receiving legal representation or is involved in a formal grievance.

One goal of the ombuds is to keep a situation from escalating to the point where people feel that representation is needed.

One of the ways the ombuds can help students handle problems is through mediation. In mediation, two people who have a problem with each other consent to sit down with the ombuds to find a solution. The ombuds listens objectively to each party’s side without taking sides.

“Everyone wants to be validated. Once they have been validated, they are willing to move on and solve the problem,” said Roberts.

Mediation is one of the only cases in which a record might be kept. The reason for this is that if the two parties are able to come to an agreement that requires that each side do something, it will be written down for each party.

Robertson also gives students advice on different situations, and if she is not able to, she can direct the person to someone who can help.

Students can stop by or call (801) 863-8665 to get in contact with UVU ombuds Ashley Robertson.

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