Why Go to the Ombuds Office?

People come to our office for many reasons.  Sometimes visitors just want to talk.  Some are reluctant to use formal channels.  Some just don't know where else to go with their issues.  And some have tried other ways to get help but have not found what they need.  If you are not sure whether the Ombuds Office can help, please contact us, no matter how big or small your issue.

When Should You Come to Us?

You can contact us as a first step, or as a last resort, or anywhere along the way.  We can listen, help you sort out your situation and plan your next step -- if you want to take a next step.  We can assist you in seeking fair, equitable, and effective solutions to your problems through informal processes.  We also provide referrals to sources of expertise or decision-making on particular problems or procedures.  The Ombuds Office supplements, but does not replace, the University's formal channels for grievance, investigation and adjudication. 

What Matters Do We Handle?

We help the UC Davis community solve problems that range from overcoming simple, practical difficulties to handling sensitive, complex issues.  The following are a few of the topics you can discuss with us:

  • Interpersonal difficulties
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Untangling a complicated situation
  • Violations of UC Davis policy
  • Workplace disputes
  • Bureaucratic runarounds
  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Cultural misunderstandings
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Appropriate ways to frame and discuss issues
  • Incivility or rudeness
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Ways to make or seek an apology
  • Academic freedom issues
  • Authorship disagreements
  • Threats or retaliation

Ombuds offices deal with an enormous variety of issues, so if your issue does not fit into the examples listed above, don't let that stop you from coming to see us. 

What Do We Do With Your Concerns?

It is important to understand that you always retain control over what you decide to do with the issues you bring to the Ombuds Office.  Our role is to help you sort out what that may be.  Our work is tailored to the particular visitor's situation and needs.  So, among other things, we may:

  • Listen, which may be all you want
  • Discuss your concerns and clarify the issues
  • Help identify a range of options for resolving a problem
  • Offer information about UC Davis policies and procedures
  • Gather relevant information from other resources
  • Offer information about other campus resources
  • Offer coaching to help you prepare for a difficult conversation
  • Engage in shuttle diplomacy
  • Conduct mediated discussions
  • Work with groups to improve communication and/or group dynamics
  • Provide conflict resolution training

We keep data on the types of concerns received by the Ombuds Office and convey information regarding issues and trends, and possible ways to respond to problematic issues, to those in the University who may have the power to effect change.

What Does the Ombuds Office Not Do?

  • Serve as an advocate for any person
  • Assist with matters that are the subject of formal proceedings
  • Assist with collective bargaining issues
  • Offer legal advice
  • Offer psychological counseling
  • Establish, change, or set aside policies
  • Make decisions or findings of fact

Is the Ombuds Office a place to make an official report or file a complaint?

No. All communications made to the Ombuds Office are off the record. In some cases important rights may be affected by when formal action is started and by when the University is informed (“put on notice”) of certain inappropriate behavior or conduct. So it is important to understand that speaking with the Ombuds Office does not constitute this kind of notice to the University and will not preserve a visitor’s legal rights.  If you want to make a record or file a formal complaint, however, the Ombuds Office can help you figure out how to do that.