Student Ombuds Office – Do’s and Don’ts

The Student Ombuds DOES:

  • Listen impartially to students needs and provide unbiased feedback (remains neutral)
  • Discuss concerns and help clarify the most important issues
  • Explain policies and processes
  • Refer students to appropriate campus services and resources
  • Encourage and empower students to consider different options, and find solutions to problems and concerns
  • Serve as a neutral party to resolve conflict
  • Offer coaching (e.g. help the student prepare for a difficult conversation)
  • Assist in informal resolution of concerns regarding a variety of student-presented issues
  • Initiate offers of assistance to students identified by university processes as “in need”
  • Provide the student with information about how a complaint may be made to the University
  • Report trends; make recommendations for institutional improvement

The Student Ombuds DOES NOT:

  • Offer or provide legal advice
  • Offer psychological counseling
  • Change policies or academic and administrative decisions
  • Circumvent administrative procedures
  • Render formal decisions
  • Participate in formal university grievances or hearings
  • Engage in formal mediation processes in disputes between students and faculty or administration
  • Conduct formal investigations or write formal investigative reports
  • Share information with others without permission unless required by law or policy
  • Keep confidential any imminent risk of serious harm or danger, or information obligated by law or policy (e.g. Title IX, Clery, etc.)
  • Testify or participate in any judicial or administrative proceeding, unless required by law
  • Operate as an advocate for students


The Office of the Ombudsperson makes every effort to maintain privacy for its visitors and all parties involved in resolving an issue. All concerns or information brought to the Ombuds' Office will not be shared with anyone else unless granted permission to do so OR otherwise required by law or policy


The Student Ombuds will be obligated by law or policy to disclose private/confidential information in certain situations.  For example, the Student Ombuds is a "Responsible Employee" per the WCU Sexual Misconduct Policy and therefore must report possible sexual misconduct violations (Title IX), as well as instances of child abuse and neglect.  In addition, the Ombuds must report crimes to WCU Public Safety, in accordance with the Clery and Campus SaVE requirements.  In addition, the Ombuds may break confidentiality if deemed necessary to ensure safety when there is a threat of harm to self or others.


Like all University offices, the Student Ombuds also is responsible to comply with lawfully-issued subpoenas, litigation discovery requests, and Right to Know Law requests.

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