Principles of Practice
In accordance with the International Ombudsman Association, the Ombuds Office adheres to the principles outlined in these documents:
To summarize, there are four fundamental principles which define Ombuds practice at Dixie State University:
- Strict confidentiality is essential to the Ombuds function and helps create a safe place for visitors to voice concerns, evaluate issues, and identify options.
- The Ombuds does not disclose the identity of visitors to the office or the content of conversations unless permission has been given to do so.
- If a visitor has given permission to do so, the Ombuds may disclose information to other offices or individuals whose help is necessary to explore or resolve a problem.
- The Ombuds confidentiality privilege belongs to the Ombuds office and cannot be waived by visitors to the office. Thus, even with the permission of the complainant, the Ombuds will not disclose documents, or testify, attend, or participate in formal proceedings.
- A visitor’s confidential disclosure to the Ombuds is strictly off-the-record and does not constitute a formal report of wrongdoing. Thus, conversations with the Ombuds do not constitute notice to the University of any claims or concerns a visitor may have. Moreover, such conversations do not toll or extend any time limits by which notice of claims must be provided to the university.
- The University will make every effort to protect the confidentiality of the Office. Neither the University nor members of the University community will ask the Ombuds to provide information about visitors or to testify on the University’s behalf in internal or external proceedings, and the University will take appropriate steps to protect the Ombuds from subpoena by others.
- The only exception to confidentiality is where there appears to be an imminent risk of serious harm.
- The Office functions outside existing administrative structures and reports directly to the President of Dixie State University for administrative and budgetary purposes.
- The Ombuds neither compels other offices to take specific action nor receives compulsory orders about how to approach a particular issue.
- The Office complements but does not duplicate existing grievance procedures and compliance channels such as University Vice Presidents, College Deans, Department Chairs, or the offices of Human Resources, Internal Audit, or Dixie State University Police.
- The Ombuds has no authority to establish, change, or set aside any University rule or policy, nor may the Ombuds override the decisions of University officials.
- The Ombuds has access to all university officials and records as needed to carry out the functions of the Office.
- The Ombuds takes all steps to avoid conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived.
- The Ombuds provides objective assessments of concerns brought to the Ombuds Office.
- As a third-party neutral, the Ombuds is an advocate for equity, fair process, and the fair administration of process. The Ombuds does not, however, take sides on behalf of any individual, cause, or dispute.
- The Ombuds takes into consideration the rights of all parties, as well as the welfare of the University and University community.
- The Ombuds provides informal, off-the record assistance only.
- The Ombuds maintains only anonymous, aggregate data. Formal records are not created, nor are personally identifiable documents preserved. Informal notes may be temporarily created only insofar as they are necessary for case management.
- The Ombuds has no authority to accept legal notice or make decisions on behalf of the University. For those wishing to go on-record, the Ombuds makes referrals to appropriate formal channels so that individuals may make informed choices about which process is best for them to pursue.
- The Ombuds may request data from and explore a concern with University officials. However, the Ombuds does not conduct formal investigations or participate in formal actions. The following are also outside the purview of the Office: adjudicating cases, acting as an advocate or witness in any case inside or outside the University; keeping case records for the University; assessing wrongdoing or innocence; determining sanctions; and making, changing, or setting aside any rule, policy, or administrative decision.