What does the ombudsman do?

The Western Michigan University ombudsman will:

  • Listen to you and discuss your problems and concerns, identifying and evaluating with you options to resolve problems.
  • Provide information on resources within the University that may help you.
  • Open avenues of communication, investigate complaints, and gather information.
  • Serve as a neutral party to solve problems and resolve conflict. The ombudsman does not take sides, but works to achieve fair outcomes.
  • Identify problem areas facing faculty, staff, and students and recommend changes in University policies and procedures.

What doesn't the ombudsman do?

The University ombudsman does not:

  • Act as an advocate for you in a dispute. The ombudsman is neutral and impartial.
  • Represent individuals in appeals or formal grievance procedures either on campus or off.
  • Provide legal representation.
  • Get involved if you have a non-University related problem or complaint.
  • Overturn binding decisions, but can investigate procedural fairness.
  • Serve as an office of record. Speaking with the ombudsman is not "notice to the University" of problems or policy violations. Often persons will seek advice from the ombudsman privately, before deciding what actions to take in response to a problem. If you want the University to "be on notice," that is formally to know about a particular problem and formally respond, students should file a Formal Student Complaint form at https://wmich.edu/ombudsman/complaints and it will be vetted and referred to the appropriate individual or unit. 
  • Keep formal written records. The ombudsman can help you determine how to keep your own records, if you need to do that.

Why go to the ombudsman?

The ombudsman is confidential...

  • The ombudsman will not identify you or discuss your concerns with anyone without your permission. He can arrange private confidential meetings at your convenience.

The ombudsman is independent…

  • The ombudsman works toward problem resolution based on principles of fairness, regardless of parties involved.

The ombudsman is impartial…

  • The ombudsman does not take sides.
  • The rights and interests of all parties will receive equal consideration.

See the ombudsman if you have a problem, concern, or issue or if…

  • You don’t know where to go for help.
  • You’ve been there, done that, and gotten nowhere.
  • You are reluctant to go through normal channels for assistance.