What is the Undergraduate Ombuds?
Based in the Office of the Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, the Undergraduate Ombuds assists students, faculty, staff, and administrators with resolving academic conflicts for undergraduates on an informal and confidential basis. The Ombuds is equally open and accessible to all parties—students, faculty, staff, and administrators—in disputes that may arise when there are differing expectations or conflicting policies regarding undergraduate academic issues. Such occurrences may happen to undergraduates in their roles as students, employees, interns, or in many of the other roles that affect their education.
What does the Ombuds do?
- Assists members of the university community in solving problems and conflicts
- Investigates claims of unfair treatment or erroneous procedure
- Serves as a neutral listener, resource, advisor, intermediary, and mediator
- Considers all sides of a question impartially and objectively
- Explains established policies and procedures of Texas A&M University
- Develops options for addressing students' concerns and helps craft a solution
- Facilitates communication between students and others involved in an issue
When would an undergraduate student need an Ombuds?
- There is an issue or a concern that cannot be resolved by the parties involved, or that one or all parties would prefer not to address through formal channels.
- There is a matter that is preferred for handling as “off the record,” or a need for an informal consultation.
- There is a problem and one or more parties are unsure of whom to speak with or what options are available to address it.
- One or more parties feel that a university policy, procedure, or regulation has been applied unfairly, or is itself unfair or ambiguous.
- There is a problem that requires an outside party to negotiate a solution or facilitate your communication with others.
- These videos will help you handle some basic academic problems you might encounter.
What kinds of concerns can be brought to the Ombuds?
The Ombuds can assist with any concern, but some of the issues brought to the office typically involve the following:
- Academics (grading disputes, testing, procedures, instructor/ student misunderstandings)
- Conflicts between undergraduate advisors and their students
- Disagreements/ misunderstandings with university policy
- Questions about discrimination
- Cultural conflicts
- Reporting unethical behavior
What can I expect from the Ombuds?
The Ombuds will:
- Be accessible to all those involved in undergraduate education and will attempt to find timely and satisfactory solutions to problems without bias
- Treat all matters with confidentiality, although in certain cases the law may require disclosure of some information (e.g., subpoena, or sexual harassment)
- Be governed by a commitment to equity, neutrality, and fairness
- Have direct access to all deans, department heads, directors, faculty members, and students to gather information and investigate issues objectively
- Help solve problems informally, as unobtrusively as possible, so as to minimize negative consequences
- Have an obligation to bring to administrators’ attention any policies, programs, personnel, or institutional decisions that he or she believes violates the rights of students, faculty, or staff
- Decline to participate in any formal grievance processes but will seek to find solutions prior to the initiation of such procedures
- Decline to take sides
How do I reach the Undergraduate Ombuds?
Dr. Valerie Balester
Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Studies
College Station, TX 77843-5000