The Ombuds office is a place where Camosun students can go for help in dealing with conflicts or disputes on an informal basis. The office is independent, impartial and confidential. Our services are free of charge.
What is the Ombudsperson?
The Office of the Ombudsperson is an impartial service which provides confidential and informal assistance for resolving any Camosun College-related concerns, complaints or conflicts, especially those that are not being adequately addressed through usual channels. The role of the Ombudsperson is ‘preventative conflict resolution’ in practice. The Ombudsperson is available to all College students, including current, former and prospective students. The Ombudsperson does not take sides, but rather will consider all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective manner. The Ombudsperson is independent of the College’s formal administrative structure; this independence ensures a safe, impartial and strictly confidential environment. The Office is funded equally by Camosun and CCSS.
What can the Ombudsperson do for me?
Listen and Clarify
- Listen carefully to your concerns and ask questions to help clarify them
- Gather all of the relevant facts and objectively review your situation
- Understand your goals and what outcomes you are seeking
- Help you to define the problem and identify / evaluate a variety of options toward finding a solution
- Make inquiries on your behalf
Advise and Inform
- Provide advice on how to access appropriate decision makers
- Make a referral to other College or community resources
- Help you understand Camosun policies, procedures and practices that may be relevant to your situation
- Provide information you need to solve College-related concerns and suggest approaches for managing conflicts
- Help you create and analyze workable options and develop a plan of action
- Provide advice on informal and formal methods of dispute resolution
- Provide guidance in the preparation of an articulate and informative case to assist in reaching a fair resolution
Assist and Intervene
- Make enquiries, collaborate and initiate problem-solving discussions with others
- Examine all the relevant evidence and initiate discussion with other responsible individuals with your permission (for instance, speak with the Registrar, Instructor or Chair)
- Facilitate effective communication and act as a go-between or intermediary
Mediate and Explore
- Help you solve a problem or complaint informally and quickly
- Assist you in pursuing an effective resolution
- Act as a facilitator or mediator for conflicts between yourself and others
- Make recommendations regarding solutions or changes to policies and procedures when appropriate
When should I contact the Ombudsperson?
- when you want to discuss a sensitive issue in confidence
- when you have a conflict with another party and need help in facilitating resolution
- when you have a situation requiring help in communication or negotiation with faculty, staff, students, or others
- when you are unsure which policies, procedures or regulations apply
- when you feel a policy, procedure or regulation has been unfairly applied to you
- when you have a complaint about a course, office or service at the College
- when you don’t know who to talk to, where to turn or what options are available
What kind of concerns does the Ombudsperson handle?
The Ombudsperson is available to handle College-related complaints and concerns that have not been adequately addressed through the usual channels. However, you are in control of the process i.e. you ultimately decide what to do about your situation and can decide to withdraw from the Ombuds service at any time.
Some reasons for visiting the Office of the Ombudsperson include:
- grade appeals
- academic misconduct (e.g. plagiarism)
- student records and transcripts
- course rules and requirements
- performance feedback
- medical or compelling circumstances
- problems with instructors / placements
- academic probation and readmission
- requests to withdraw from a program
- learning environment
- tuition & fees / financial
- fines and refunds
- discrimination & human rights
- harassment & bullying
- student or staff misconduct
- student employment on campus
- general College environment
What the ombudsperson CANNOT do?
- take sides
- breach confidentiality
- provide legal advice
- provide psychological counseling
- make policy and managerial decisions
- make discipline decisions
- act as a substitute for formal grievance, investigative or appeals processes
- participate in academic appeals processes
- intervene in any conflicts with individuals or groups outside the College
- intervene in any matter covered by a collective agreement
- accept notice on behalf of the College
Can the Ombudsperson make binding decisions?
While the Ombudsperson may comment on or make recommendations for change in Camosun College policy, practice or procedures, the Ombudsperson cannot make or “overrule” College policy or replace established legislative, judicial or administrative rules or procedures.
What is the role of the Ombudsperson in the appeal process?
Students initiate appeals. The Ombuds office does not replace the appeal process. The Ombudsperson can provide information about appeal procedures and grounds for appeal, and can facilitate communication, clarify issues or problem-solve to assist students in understanding the process and their rights and responsibilities. Advice on organizing and presenting an appeal, or offering feedback on an appeal letter can be provided. The Ombudsperson does not formally represent or advocate for students at appeal hearings.
A student appealing an academic decision can receive help from the Ombuds Office in the way of:
- information about policies and procedures
- information about how decisions are made
- advice about what to present at the appeal
- an opinion about the merits of a particular case
- feedback on a draft letter
- intervention to facilitate communication, clarify issues or problem solve.
Many thanks to Ryerson University, Confederation College and Lakehead University Office of the Ombudsperson.
Services for Students
In addition to the Ombuds office, Camosun offers many support services for students.
- Camosun College Student Society
- Campus Safety
- Centre for Accessible Learning
- Indigenous Advisors
- International Counselling
- Sexual Violence Support and Education
- Student Mental Health & Wellbeing
Remember, you can always come to the Ombuds office, whether as a first stop, to seek information, or as a last resort in a sticky situation.