Office of the Ombudsperson
Confidential, Impartial and Independent
What is the Ombudsperson?
The SFU community is committed to the fair and just treatment of each and every member of the University community. SFU is proud to have established one of the first Ombuds Offices at a Canadian university. For over 40 years the Office has provided confidential, informal, independent, and neutral dispute resolution services to all members of the university community by providing information, advice, intervention and referrals. In keeping with this commitment, the University joined with the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) and the Graduate Students Society (GSS) in 2008 to support the development of a new jointly funded Office of the Ombudsperson (Henceforth The Office).
The Office is an independent, impartial and confidential resource for current, former or prospective students. The Office provides information and guidance on students' rights and responsibilities, and University regulations, policies and procedures. The Office may also make recommendations, where appropriate, for changes in University policies and procedures and to promote discussion on institution-wide concerns. When making recommendations, the Office is an advocate for fairness. The Office will review all situation in an impartial manner. The Ombudsperson does not act as student advocate in the context of appeal hearings, but may assist students who need to identify potential advocates. The Ombudsperson is available to help students become their own advocates by providing them with information or advice about regulations, policies and procedures and strategies to use constructive ways to raise issues.
All dealings with The Office are deemed to be confidential, and may only be revealed on a “need to know” basis with the written consent of the complainant.
When You Should Contact The Office:
- 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 other faculty, staff 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 an office or service at the University; and
- When you don't know who to talk to, where to turn or what options are available.
The Office can help you by:
- Listening and help to analyze the problem or complaint.
- Identifying and explaining relevant university policies and procedures
- Expediting "red tape" tangles
- Helping to analyze the problem and define options
- Referring you to the appropriate offices where means exist for the resolution of your complaint
- Investigating and or reconciling disputes
- Help you resolve problems informally and expeditiously.
- Investigate a problem, complaint, or concern.
- Mediate or facilitate discussions between a student, staff or faculty members, on some occasions (and only with the permission of all parties involved).
- Initiate discussions with other involved parties (only with your permission).
- Make referrals to other campus and community resources.
- Recommend changes in University policies or procedures that may be outdated, ineffectual or arbitrary.
The Office can help with such issues as:
- Advisor-advisee relations, supervisor-supervisee relations
- Fear of coming forward or of acting to stop unacceptable behaviour
- Abuse of power, bullying, unfair treatment
- Help in writing a letter of concern, or help in writing responses or appeals
- Issues related to non-academic misconduct
- Policy issues
- Problems with rules that govern courses and course requirements
- Problems with Instructors
- Appeals of withdrawals under extenuating circumstances appeals (WE)
- Issues related to Academic Integrity
- Grade appeals
The Office cannot:
- Order or force any decision to be changed.
- Circumvent existing policies or procedures to resolve issues.
- Intervene in conflicts with individuals or groups outside the University.
- Intervene in any matter covered by a collective agreement between an individual and the University
- The Ombudsperson does not act as a lawyer or an advocate, but will work with clients and members of the University to ensure that resolution occurs and grievances are heard and addressed.
- The Office does have the right to refuse or discontinue work on any case which the Ombudsperson is of the opinion is not worthy of investigation where such complaint is frivolous, vexatious, not brought in good faith, or is an abuse of the Ombudsperson’s functions.