The second floor of the Student Life and Wellness Building is home to many offices such as the Outdoor Adventure Center, Intramurals and the Wellness Center. But, there’s one office that is specifically designed to help students with conflicts: the Ombuds Office located in e SL 212B. the office of Ombudsman.
Talatou Abdoulaye, ombuds office manager and conflict resolution coordinator, said the purpose of the Ombuds office was to provide support for students who are experiencing conflicts with third parties, which could include personal conflicts such as with family, friends, significant others or external conflicts like issues with professors, the university, or even your landlord.
The goal of an ombudsman is to either help students mediate any conflicts they have with third parties or to help students to find the best resources available that can help them with their questions or problems.
According to Abdoulaye, some students are afraid of reaching out to his office because he works at the university, and they don’t think he can help them. However, he emphasized how students shouldn’t worry about being judged or any issues between his being a university employee and helping to mediate between students and faculty.
“Ombuds in universities are people who are neutral, confidential, informal and also independent. These are the four standards of principle that are used by the International Ombuds Association. We are not defending the university,” Abdoulaye said. “We are independent from the university in the sense that we are confidential and informal.”
He further developed his point of confidentiality and informalness when he explained that at the end of every semester, all notes or documents that may have been used to help mediate a past issue between students and other parties are shredded, never to be brought up again.
Abdoulaye expressed hope in being able to offer internships with the Ombuds office by fall for students who are interested in learning about mediation.
He understands that many Peace and Justice Studies majors might be interested in an internship such as this. However, he also said that any student from any background could apply.
Abdoulaye also mentioned that he understands his office is hidden and sometimes hard for people to find, but he laughs as he explains why he prefers it that way.
“I want it hidden because of the confidential powers [in] that,” Abdoulaye said “But I do want students to know about it so when they want to find [me], they can.”