Frequently Asked Questions
An Ombudsperson is an independent, neutral third party who assists students, faculty, staff and administrators in resolving problems, concerns and complaints, confidentially and through informal means, such as coaching, opening lines of communication, negotiating, and informal mediation.
The Ombuds Office is available to all students, faculty and staff affiliated with all LSU institutions.
Anytime. You may speak to the Ombudsperson before, during or after formal action is taken. Individuals often find it helpful to explore positions, options and strategies with the Ombudsperson confidentially before taking more formal steps. You do not need to exhaust other resources before approaching the Ombudsperson.
- Communication breakdowns with professors, advisors, chairs, supervisors, coworkers, students, or others
- Concerns regarding equity, fairness, and respect
- Employment issues that could affect relationships and success
- Fear of confrontation
- Personality conflicts that may affect employment or class grade
- Student disagreements
- Supervisor-employee relations
- Diversity related concerns
- Trust issues
- Accessibility concerns
- Issues arising during change management
- Issues related to intellectual property rights
- Concerns regarding working conditions (safety, work-life balance, etc.)
- Compliance related concerns
- Challenges related to values, beliefs, or priorities
- Harassment concerns
- Concerns about abuse or waste of organizational resources
- Questions about policies, procedures, etc.
There are numerous benefits of speaking with the Ombuds Office, including but not limited to:
- Confidentiality: Your name will not be disclosed unless you give your explicit request/permission to do so, or if there is a situation of imminent risk of serious harm.
- Objective and Impartial: The Ombudsperson can help you to think through the situation clearly and see things from multiple perspectives
- Voluntary: You choose the path of resolution
- No Retaliation: You can speak freely and honestly without fear of retaliation.
- Other Resources: You can receive help to connect with other resources
The Ombuds Office cannot provide legal advice. The Ombudsperson will assist in identifying University procedures or policies and can help you evaluate options.
Never. All conversations with the Ombuds Office are confidential, except when the Ombudsperson has a reasonable belief of harm to a person or property or when the law requires disclosure. The Ombuds Office has the sole discretionary authority to determine whether there is a reasonable belief of harm to the visitor, to another person, or to property, based on the information provided. In the event the Ombuds Office determines it is necessary to disclose a confidential discussion to the University, the Ombuds Office will:
- Identify the appropriate University Office(s) to notify;
- Articulate to the University Office(s) the Ombuds’ intention of placing the University on notice to take appropriate action;
- Provide narrow and specific information relating to the allegations or concerns, sufficient to allow the University to take action on the notice given; and
- Expressly state that the disclosure of information is limited to the information provided for notice and does not equate to a waiver of other information or conversations with the visitor which are irrelevant to the safety concern.
Notice to the University in this instance is from the Ombuds Office and NOT the visitor.
All of the services provided by the Ombuds Office are free.
No. The office does not take sides. An Ombudsperson is a designated neutral party. The Office advocates for a fair process or outcome.
No, since we cannot determine what course of action to take without discussing the situation with the person involved. Given the confidentiality of this office, there is no need for anonymity.
Conversations with the Ombudsperson are confidential, and the Ombudsperson will not disclose any part of your conversation without your permission, with two exceptions. If an Ombudsperson learns of the possibility of physical harm to anyone, the Ombudsperson will report that information to an appropriate authority or agency. In addition, in very rare cases a court may order release of information shared with an Ombudsperson.
As a matter of policy, the Ombuds Office destroys all information regarding a particular matter when that matter is resolved or within one month of no activity. The Ombuds Office does not retain any information that would identify the individuals involved in a conflict, dispute or complaint. The Ombuds Office does keep some statistical data about the categories of concerns visitors discuss, as well as some general demographic data which is aggregated.
The Ombuds Office is an entirely voluntary service, and you are never required to contact the Ombudsperson before seeking the assistance of other services. If you are not sure which other services may be available to help you resolve a particular issue or concern, you may visit the Ombudsperson, who can discuss your concern and suggest options, approaches, and other resources.
No. LSU protects people who use the Ombuds Office. If you believe that you are being subjected to retaliation because you are using the Ombuds Office, or if you are being discouraged from using it, you should immediately bring that to the attention of the Ombuds Office.
You can simply ignore it. The Ombuds Office can provide you with information and options, but you are the one who is responsible for deciding what you want to do next.
Your appeal rights do not change if you first try informal resolution through the Ombuds Office. But remember: formal grievance and appeal processes all have filing deadlines you must meet for your grievance or appeal to proceed. Therefore you should take advantage of the Ombuds Office services well before your appeal filing deadline arrives. This will enable you to try informal resolution, but still allow you to file a timely appeal if you decide you want to do that.
No. The office is an informal resource designed to resolve complaints, concerns or problems before a grievance has been filed or an attorney has been retained.
The Ombuds Office provides services as an alternative to formal processes. The Ombudsperson does not participate in, provide documents for, or testify in formal processes. If an issue is already part of a formal process (i.e. HRM investigation, Title IX investigation, grievances, Code of Conduct process, tenure review, appeals, etc.), the Ombudsperson will not participate in the matter during the pendency of the formal proceedings. Depending on the issue, the Ombudsperson may be able to assist, informally, on other issues, such as helping you understand the relevant policy or procedure applicable to the formal process.
The Ombuds Office is an informal resource and does not engage in disciplinary processes. Some concerns/issues brought to the Ombuds Office are addressed – at the request of the visitor(s) – through communications with others involved in the situation, by sharing information with individuals who have authority or influence on the matter, or by gathering information from individuals who have knowledge about a relevant policy/procedure/practice/etc. If the Ombuds Office has contacted you it may be that the Office received a request to apprise you of a concern/issue, involve you in communications to resolve an issue, or gather information pertinent to the understanding and resolution of a situation.
You are welcome to discuss any type of concern with the Ombuds Office, and the Ombudsperson will help you identify your options. But keep in mind that the Ombuds Office does not conduct investigations or issue decisions. The discussions that take place in the Ombuds Office remain confidential, so telling the Ombuds Office about a situation does not put the University on notice. But the Ombuds Office can help you figure out how to accomplish your desired outcome.
It would still be helpful for you to visit the Ombuds Office, because you might learn some strategies you could use to deal with the conflict. Even though your colleague doesn’t want to work on resolution right now, there are often other things you can do so that your situation is more comfortable. Frequently just talking about a difficult situation can relieve some of the stress you may be feeling.