WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
New Student Ombuds Office Provides Caring, Confidential Advice for Southern Oregon University Students
Southern Oregon University doesn’t have any Ghostbusters on campus (wouldn’t that be great?), but for most non-ectoplasmic problems, our new Student Ombuds Office gives students a welcoming pathway to get caring help and advice.
What is ombud? Ombuds are impartial conflict resolution practitioners who provide confidential and informal assistance to members of the campus community.
Co-led by Communication, Media & Cinema Instructor Erica Knotts and Business professor Rebecca Williams, the Ombuds Office is aligned with the practices and expertise that characterize popular Conflict Management courses offered by the CMC program.
“We have worked with students who have had challenges working or communicating with a professor, roommate, advisor, or specific office on campus,” said Knotts. “We also aim to connect students to the right offices and people across our campus to get additional support in order to be successful here at SOU.”
Knotts added that since officially launching in Fall 2021, the Ombuds Office has answered questions about various university policies, worked on roommate/housemate disagreements, and advised students on apologies and impact statements.
The service of the Student Ombuds Office is offered in conjunction with the office of the Dean of Students. The ombuds help explore resources and options in a neutral and confidential environment independent of formal procedures and policies. Knotts and Williams meet with students online or in-person as needed.
“When it comes to bringing up a conflict issue, there can be this fear and uncertainty for students,” said Knotts. “Students also have concerns about power dynamics and record-keeping.”
By having a confidential and independent support system, students can explore all of their options before moving forward with a solution. The ombuds bring institutional knowledge to the table with the primary goal of supporting student success and helping students resolve conflict and advocate for themselves.
If you would like to speak to Erica or Rebecca about any issue or conflict you may be experiencing, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, click this link:
Story by Kelli Albert, Community Manager for the Communication, Media & Cinema Program at Southern Oregon University.