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Visiting the Office of the Ombuds

What can the Ombudsperson do for me?

The ombudsperson helps individuals resolve issues fairly, and if possible, informally. The ombudsperson has been given broad access to information and resources that can be of assistance in developing options to help people resolve their issues. This includes access to University administrators, faculty and staff, and records.

The Ombudsperson:

  • Actively listens to and discusses your questions and concerns
  • Helps you to evaluate options and suggests approaches for addressing concerns
  • Serves as a neutral "third party" in conflict resolution
  • Advocates for a fair resolution process

Some possible outcomes of your meeting may include the Ombudsperson:

  • Coaching and role-playing in order to provide you with some new ways of trying to resolve a problem on your own
  • Providing you with information about policies, procedures, services and programs
  • Facilitating communication between people
  • Identifying additional campus resources
  • Advising you about steps to resolve the problem informally
  • Advising you about formal and administrative options.  Helping you to bring your issues to the attention of those with authority to address your concerns
  • Recommending institutional review or change in policies or procedures that generate conflict
  • Collaborating with other campus offices on issues of general concern

What will the ombudsperson not do?

The services of the campus ombudsperson do not compromise or replace policies or procedures established under collective bargaining agreements. In addition, UC San Diego's campus ombudsperson does not:

  • Provide legal advice
  • Provide psychological counseling
  • Render judgments or make decisions on issues brought to the office
  • Make decisions for administrators or others
  • Determine "guilt" or "innocence" of those accused of wrong-doing
  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Assign sanctions or discipline to individuals
  • Participate in formal hearings (grievance, union, or arbitration), processes or lawsuits
  • Advocate for either party in a dispute
  • Accept notice on behalf of the university

Informal Process

When you visit the ombuds office, the ombudsperson will explain the role of the office to you. The ombudsperson will explain that the office keeps all information confidential and that the office helps you to find options to resolve your issues. The ombudsperson may discuss both informal as well as more formal options that are available to you; however, should any party in a dispute choose a more formal option, at that point services with the ombuds office will discontinue. The ombuds office does not participate in formal options. Working informally with the ombuds office often results in effective resolution of issues, but you should also be aware that in some situations, you may have formal rights at stake as well.

You will have an opportunity to consult with the ombudsperson and to describe in your own words the situation as you see it. The ombudsperson will provide a safe forum to voice your concerns, evaluate your situation, and help you to organize your thoughts, assess your options, and decide on what is most important and relevant for your specific circumstance.

Some options the ombudsperson may discuss with you include simply talking about your problem, facilitating communication between you and others, beginning informal processes available at UC San Diego, or pursuing a formal grievance proceeding. If appropriate, the ombudsperson may refer you to another office. You will select the options that you prefer. Some issues can be addressed quickly and resolved within a very short period of time within days or a couple of weeks. Other issues may take much longer (up to several months), and require many steps to reach a long-term equitable solution for all parties.

Please be sure to bring any relevant documents with you to your appointment with the ombudsperson.  It also sometimes helps to sketch out a timeline of events if the situation has been going on for a long period of time.  These tools may help you to have a more productive meeting in the ombuds office so your time with us will be well spent.

Formal Process

If all attempts at resolving the situation informally fail, you may choose to participate in a formal grievance or complaint process. Please note that the Ombuds does not participate in any way in formal processes.   Important rights may be affected by the actual date when formal action is initiated and by the actual date when UCSD is informed of the allegedly wrongful behavior, and in some situations, you may wish to consult with an attorney or other resource regarding your rights. Union members will follow the process outlined in their collective bargaining agreements. All other individuals will be subject to the policies and procedures of the University of California and the campus. Since the scope of the office is limited to informal dispute resolution, the ombudsperson does not participate in any formal processes. The ombuds office does not keep records for the university, and the ombuds office is not available for testimony or other activity related to any formal process, including grievances, arbitration, hearings, or litigation.

Examples of issues brought to the Ombuds office

Benefits questions

Communication issues with colleagues

Departmental concerns


Discrimination, Harassment and Bias

Ethical considerations

Grade questions & disputes

Performance evaluations


Research data ownership/usage/authorship

Roommate issues

University policies & procedures