OMBUDS AT
OTHER SCHOOLS

University # of Staff # of Cases
Brock 1 693
Dalhousie 1 109
Queens 2 238
Toronto 2 374
UBC 2 451
Ryerson 3 541
Western 2 681
Carleton 3 850
Alberta 4 Staff
3 Interns
1108

The Ombuds Office has been operational for nearly 50 years at Brock University. It’s always been funded by the students via BUSU and is now funded by 3 primary stakeholders: BUSU, GSA and Brock. Our current Ombudsperson took on the role 12 years ago and became Canada’s first Certified Organizational Ombudsperson in Canada. The casework has grown substantially over her term swelling from 162 cases in her first year to nearly 700 cases annually today.

The caseload is no longer sustainable. As a result the scope of service has had to reduce and change:

  • no longer able to attend departmental meetings;
  • minimal debriefing and resource follow-up;
  • no longer first come first serve – most serious cases take priority;
  • longer wait times
OMBUDS Growth By Year

Growth

Growth

The Ombuds Office has been operational for nearly 50 years at Brock University. It’s always been funded by the students via BUSU and is not funded by 3 primary stakeholders: BUSU, GSA and Brock. Our current Ombudsperson took on the role 12 years ago and became Canada’s first Certified Organizational Ombudsperson in Canada. The casework has grown substantially over her term swelling from 162 cases in her first year to nearly 700 cases annually today.

The caseload is no longer sustainable. As a result the scope of service has had to reduce and change:

  • no longer able to attend departmental meetings;
  • minimal debriefing and resource follow-up;
  • no longer first come first serve – most serious cases take priority;
  • longer wait times
OMBUDS Growth By Year

What

Voting YES to the Ombuds Referendum will double the capacity of the service provided to students.

Support Services from Ombuds include:
  • Listening nonjudgmentally to your story
  • Understanding your perspective fully
  • Acting as a source of information
  • Guiding you through policies and procedures
  • Coaching you through conflict
  • Walking you through scenarios and decisions
  • Safe space to disclose concerns and happenings
  • Vent frustrations
  • Mapping options for resolution
  • Facilitates informal mediation
Students Use Ombuds services when:
  • Class conflicts arise;
  • Unfair grading and evaluations;
  • Being accused of academic misconduct;
  • Accommodations are not met;
  • Withdrawn, Suspended or Debarred from Program or Brock;
  • Interpersonal conflict with Supervisor;
  • Financial appeals;
  • Impacted by mental health;
  • Impacted by unfair treatment.
Confidentiality: Ombuds is a true safe space to share your concerns. Ombuds is not a point of notice which means what you say and do is never reported to higher-ups unless there is harm of self or others.

Independence: The Ombudsperson is not a University staff member. In fact, the service is funded primarily by students. As a result Ombuds can push and pull in ways that internal staffers cannot, thereby holding processes accountable and increasing probability of resolution.

Neutrality: Ombuds does not advocate for you or the Institution; they advocate for fair process. You’ll get a combination of hard truths and support to optimize your success.

Impartiality: Ombuds is not here to judge you or your situation. Regardless of what’s happened, Ombuds will walk you through the process and act as a constant guide and support during your hardest times.

Why

Why

Confidentiality: Ombuds is a true safe space to share your concerns. Ombuds is not a point of notice which means what you say and do is never reported to higher-ups unless there is harm of self or others.

Independence: The Ombudsperson is not a University staff member. In fact, the service is funded primarily by students. As a result Ombuds can push and pull in ways that internal staffers cannot, thereby holding processes accountable and increasing probability of resolution.

Neutrality: Ombuds does not advocate for you or the Institution; they advocate for fair process. You’ll get a combination of hard truths and support to optimize your success.

Impartiality: Ombuds is not here to judge you or your situation. Regardless of what’s happened, Ombuds will walk you through the process and act as a constant guide and support during your hardest times.

Referendum

The request is simple: $1.25 per credit to fund a second professional level Ombudsperson. The money collected will pay for the costs associated with hiring a second Ombuds: salary, benefits, professional memberships and training.

Download MOU

Testimonials

We asked Students, Faculty, Admin, and Staff 2 Questions:
1. Why is Ombuds important at Brock University?
2. What has been your experience with the service?



  • “During my time as a member of the Senate Student Appeals Board, I saw first-hand how the Ombudsperson is a vital position for students. The Ombudsperson helps students navigate the bureaucracy of the appeals process and assists them in their substantive preparations for the hearings. Further, the Ombudsperson serves as a support person for students during the hearings themselves. Doing this kind of work requires time, careful attention, knowledge, commitment, integrity, and compassion. Resources are needed to ensure such important work for students continues.”
    -– Faculty Member, Social Sciences

  • “With the increase on student enrollment and diversification of the Brock community, there is a greater need for student advocacy, case investigation, and follow-up. Availability to advise and expedience to resolve is essential to provide equitable and fair service. As a faculty member and currently as Chair of the Department, I believe that the Ombudsperson is an objective third party that brings balance and assurance of fairness and respect to the discussion table. In my experience, in every situation when the Ombudsperson has been present, students have felt heard and valued and were more likely to learn and make positive changes.”
    -- Dr. Ana Sanchez, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Sciences

  • “The Ombudsperson Office provides valuable support for students as they navigate ‘the system’ here at Brock. Dealing with university regulations can be overwhelming when students are faced with concerns and challenges. In my various roles as Department Chair, Associate Dean and Interim Dean at the Goodman School of Business, frequently I have referred students to the Ombuds Office to ensure that they are treated fairly. As students deal with more challenges, the need for the Ombuds Office is even greater.”
    -– Dr. Barbara Sainty, Associate Professor of Accounting

  • “I had the privilege of working with the Ombuds staff in a number of roles, including the Academic Integrity Advisory Committee in the development of new policies and procedures, and having an expert voice to speak alongside students was integral to making sure these policies were in the best interest of all students. Students deserve a fair voice that works for equitable outcomes. Having that voice be funded by students, for students means that it can be sustained, and not be tampered with by budget cuts or interference from outside forces. For less than your monthly Netflix subscription, you can have someone in your corner to help when you need it most, who answers only to you, the students.”
    -– Chis Ventura, Alumni (BA ’12; MEd ’17)

  • “The Office of the Ombudsperson is an integral space for ensuring students’ rights is respected by all stakeholders on campus. While all folks within the university are expected to act in good faith, it is important for students to have an impartial and supportive role that can help guide them while dealing with any challenges they are facing within the institution. Be it through direct student support, or ensuring policy development is done with respect for students in mind, the Ombudsperson represents a core pillar in creating successful outcomes for students that are fair and equitable.”
    -- Former Graduate Student, Faculty of Education.

  • “I was terrified when I got the email stating I had been accused of cheating. Until I spoke with Ombuds, I honestly thought I was getting kicked out of school. Even though she could not come to my department meeting, we met and instantly I felt way less stress. I knew my rights and worst case scenario so I felt secure.”
    -- Second Year Undergraduate Student

  • “I knew things were wrong with my thesis Supervisor, our relationship was strained and couldn’t figure out how to repair it. Having no one to turn to, I sought the help of the Ombudsperson. I was able to get advice and guidance on how to navigate my conflict and how to protect myself against potential bias. It’s very probably I would have withdrew from my program without their support.”
    –- Graduate Student, Faculty of Humanities

  • “My mental health was off the charts. I couldn’t attend class, study for exams or focus on my assignments. My roommate told me to try Ombuds. It took me a while to schedule an appointment but I’m grateful I did. Ombuds helped me get supports on campus I knew nothing about and offered to speak to all my Professors giving me time to produce work and get well. I’ve told so many friends about this service!”
    –- First Year Undergraduate Student.

  • “The Ombuds office offers an incredibly important service to students. It provides valuable student-centred support and information for students who are in situations involving conflict or tension with some aspect of the university. Because it is funded and managed by the Student union, students can feel safe in sharing their situation, knowing that the Ombuds Officer is 100% for students. One of my roles in teaching a large introductory psychology course (enrollment about 1300) is to sit down with about 70 students per year to discuss problems with plagiarism or other issues of academic misconduct. I find that the students who have consulted with the Ombuds Officer are better able to benefit from our meeting. They come in knowing the process and understanding their rights. As a result, we are able to more effectively have a collaborative conversation that helps them take stock of what happened and figure out how to prevent the problem going forward. I have also sent students to consult with the Ombuds Officer when they have a complaint and don’t know where to turn. Many have told me how helpful they found the Ombuds Officer; however, in recent years I have heard that it is harder to reach her because of her mounting workload. Therefore, it has been clear to me in the last few years that the Ombuds Office needs to expand.”
    -- Kathryn Belicki, PhD Professor, Psychology

  • “When I had a little power to fight back to a bigger authority, I thought I have no voice and no hope... that was the time when Ombuds, saved me. She listened to my story and believed in me. As a result of her help, I got my right that belongs to me. I am sure there are many students like me who needs help and needs someone to stand on their side. I deeply support Ombuds!”
    –- International Graduate Student

  • “This is to confirm my support for the Ombuds Office at BUSU. This service is vital for our students, some of whom would otherwise have great difficulty in navigating the academic and administrative processes at Brock. As former Undergraduate Associate Dean in the Faculty of Humanities (2012-18), I have had hundreds of meetings with students, often to adjudicate serious matters of academic integrity or appeals. The presence of the Ombuds Officer in these meetings always assured me that the students had a true understanding of Brock systems and policies, and access to a wide variety of campus resources to assist them as needed. Before, during and after such meetings, students are always better off having had the support of the Ombuds Office. It was clear to me, however, that a single Ombuds person could not be expected to handle every case personally and that additional help from other equally trained and experienced individuals was, and still is, badly needed to manage an ever-growing case load.”
    –- Brian Power, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Academic (former Associate Dean, Faculty of Humanities)

  • "There are many situations in which students greatly benefit from the impartial advice and assistance of an Ombuds person. In particular, I have been involved in a number of academic misconduct cases and have found the services of the Ombuds office to have made a large difference to the student’s experience of a stressful situation. Having a calm and knowledgeable advocate for the student is extremely important, particularly, in the case of international students. For a number of these students, formal language around procedures and policies can sometimes be challenging to interpret. Having an experienced Ombuds person is invaluable to help these students navigate difficult problems.”
    –- Dr. Diane Dupont, Interim Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies

  • “I would like to take a moment to highlight the important service that the BUSU Ombuds Person provides for students across Brock University. The goal of any University should be to help all of its students be successful and to walk across the convocation stage with a degree that prepares them to thrive in the 21st Century. The Ombuds Person plays a vital role to helping to ensure that EVERY student has an opportunity to receive the support they need to thrive. While faculty and staff work hard every day to help provide the necessary supports for students, there are times where the Ombuds Person helps students to articulate their needs in a more proactive and effective manner and to navigate University policies that sometimes seem overwhelming. The Ombuds Person is a highly respected member of the Brock community whose voice serves as a voice of reason and attempts to find effective solutions that serve the interests of the students. In my role as Vice Provost and previously as a Dean of a Faculty, I have developed a professional and collegial relationship with the Ombuds Office built out of trust and admiration. I have often reached out to the Office for advice and counsel when making decisions to ensure that the interest of students is at the forefront and understood. It is because of the success of the Ombuds Person that a second position is required. As Brock University continues to grow and as issues that are important to students and their academic success also become more complex, the demands on the Ombuds Office also continue to increase. BUSU and its members should be very proud of the services that the Ombuds Person has provided over the years and I look forward to continuing to work with a second Ombuds Person working on behalf of BUSU and its members.”
    –- Dr. James Mandigo, Vice Provost, Enrolment Management and International

  • “Our GSB Graduate Programs Office’s experience with the Ombuds service has been very positive. The Ombuds person has provided a comforting and helpful support to the students. Once an investigation is launched, a number of people have to be pulled together at a common time, often due to availability of the parties, this can take some time. This service provides a place where the students can get their questions and concerns addressed, prior to the meeting date, by a person they can trust to be looking out only for their rights within the regulations of the university. Our office’s only concern is that the availability of the Ombuds person. It is difficult to find a common time for the parties to attend but adding the Ombuds person to the meeting adds further coordination difficulties especially when the person has limited availability. Expanding the service further would provide a great support for the students, and would add values to the university’s services, ensuring that all the processes operate fairly and consistently. With the large and continually growing graduate programs (particularly those offered to international students), we would need to ensure that there will be sufficient Ombuds service that provides information, advice, and that supports to students, faculty, and staff when they have to deal with academic, discipline, interpersonal, and/or financial issues related to the various graduate programs.”
    –- Goodman School of Business, Graduate Program Office

  • “Previously situated at Brock University as the Sexual Violence Support and Education Coordinator within the Human Rights and Equity Office I saw firsthand why Ombuds is a crucial student-focused support for when students are at their most vulnerable. Ombuds is a place to turn when all other options have been exhausted: students appealing grades; survivors seeking accommodation and support; international students experiencing discrimination; and respondents needing to understand their rights, the support and education that are made available helps build capacity and self-advocacy skills in ways that no administrative office can rightfully do. Ombuds was always responsive and ready to help collaborate on student support despite consistently running over the capacity of what any one person should be able to manage. Adding a second FTE is not only a good idea, but it is the responsible thing to do so as not to continue to offer these services to students at the expense of any one human. Running an office of last resorts should be a shared responsibility.”
    –- Allison Cadwallader, former Sexual Violence Support and Education Coordinator Brock University

FAQs

Contact Us

Have questions about the referendum, or Ombuds in general? We're happy to chat.

Carole Moss
Director, Student Equity and Inclusion
905-688-550 [x4195]
[email protected]