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About Confidentiality

The ombuds office is firmly committed to maintaining the confidentiality of those who use our services and will keep all information confidential to the extent allowed by law. We will not disclose that you came to the ombuds office or any part of your confidential communications with us unless in the course of your discussions with the ombudsperson, we ask for and receive your permission to do so. If the ombudsperson believes that talking with someone may help your situation, we will ask for your permission before any disclosures are made. The ombuds office keeps no permanent records of visitor names, affiliations or grievances.

The only exception to this confidentiality is when the ombudsperson determines that an imminent threat of serious harm exists. If you have particular concerns about confidentiality, please be sure to raise the issue when you meet with the ombudsperson. This confidentiality cannot be waived by users of the office because the privilege of confidentiality belongs to the ombuds office, and not to the users of the office. Because confidentiality is so important to the ombuds office, all communications with the office are made with the understanding that they are confidential, off-the-record, and that no one from the office will be called to testify as a witness in any formal or legal proceeding to reveal confidential communications.

Are some things not kept confidential?

Yes. At the ombudsperson's discretion, if the ombudsperson believes that an imminent threat of serious harm exists, the ombudsperson may have to disclose information.

What is meant by confidentiality?

All conversations with the ombudsperson are confidential. The ombudsperson will not disclose any part of your conversation without your prior permission, nor will the ombudsperson communicate to others that you came to the ombuds office.

Does the Ombudsperson tell anyone what I've said?

Without breaking confidentiality, the ombudsperson reports general trends and suggestions for improvements to the campus community.

Can I put the University on "Notice" about my problem by telling the Ombudsperson?

No. Because of the unique, informal, problem-solving role of the ombuds office, speaking to the ombudsperson about a concern does not constitute notice to the university that the problem exists, nor is speaking to the ombuds office a step in any applicable grievance process. Anyone wishing to put the university on notice may contact an administrator or invoke a formal grievance process. The ombuds office can provide referral information about who to contact for anyone seeking to use administrative or formal grievance processes.

Will the Ombudsperson talk to my attorney or testify if I choose to file a grievance or lawsuit?

No. Once a matter is in a formal process, including legal action, the ombuds office does not have any further involvement in the situation. Because confidentiality is so important to the ombuds office, all communications with the office are made with the understanding that they are confidential, off-the-record, and that no one from the office will be called to testify as a witness in any formal grievance, complaint or other proceeding, or any legal proceeding to reveal confidential communications. Absent a court order, the ombuds office will maintain the confidentiality of all dealings and communications with the office and will assert any and all legal protections to maintain that confidentiality.

Do visitors of the Ombuds Office also have an obligation regarding confidentiality?

Our visitors are asked to agree that in the event of any legal, administrative or other formal proceeding involving or arising out of a situation about which they have consulted the ombuds office, they will maintain the confidentiality of all dealings and communications with the ombuds office and will not disclose them unless compelled to do so by a court order. Absent a court order, the ombuds office will maintain the confidentiality of all dealings and communications with the office and will assert any and all legal protections to maintain that confidentiality.

Can I remain anonymous?

Yes, if that is your desire. You can do this in a number of ways. You can call the ombudsperson to discuss an issue without giving your name or you can even meet with the ombudsperson without giving your name. If you would like to remain anonymous, the ombudsperson will work with you to find a way to address your concern in a way that does not compromise your identity. However, if you remain anonymous, this may limit the options available to you for resolution of your concern.