What is Ombuds

“What is Ombudsman?” ämbədzmən

The word “ombudsman” (om-budz-man) comes from the Swedish language and means “representative.”  A Student Ombudsperson (interchangeable term for “ombudsperson”: “ombuds” or “ombudsman”) is a designated administrator who offers SJSU students impartial, informal, and confidential support to assist them with a variety of issues and concerns. 

It is appropriate to contact the Student Ombudsperson when you: 

  • aren’t sure what policies or procedures apply to your situation
  • would like to discuss a sensitive issue/concern
  • feel that you are being treated unfairly
  • feel like your concerns are circling around and not getting resolved
  • don’t know whom to ask or where to go

The Student Ombudsperson can help by: 

  • Sorting through a situation 
  • Helping you define your goals as it relates to your concern 
  • Exploring options for resolving your concern
  • Discussing and providing resources
  • Listening and recommending next steps
  • Interpreting university policies
  • Advising you on how to effectively communicate about your concern to others who are involved

The Student Ombudsperson does:

  • Assist in clarifying issues
  • Brainstorm and explore options
  • Communicate informally and off-the-record 
  • Explain university policies and procedures
  • Advocate for fair and equitable application of university procedures
  • Listen your concern confidentially
  • Mediate between involved parties
  • Provide a safe place for discussion
  • Provide information about campus resources
  • Provide referrals to other services or resources
  • Track trends and general issues at a campus level

The Student Ombudsperson (does not): 

  • Doesn't advocate for a particular outcome
  • Doesn't advocate for individuals or take sides
  • Doesn't change policies, procedures, or make academic/administrative decisions
  • Doesn't conduct formal investigations
  • Doesn't keep records identifying individuals who meet with the Student Ombudsperson
  • Doesn't maintain confidentiality when there is a disclosure of suspected discrimination or harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic such as sex or gender, which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and related retaliation
  • Doesn't maintain confidentiality when there is any imminent risk of serious harm or danger to individual or community
  • Doesn't participate or testify in formal procedures including legal proceedings
  • Doesn't provide legal advice
  • Doesn't share information with others without permission


Note: the content of this page was adapted from https://ombuds.calpoly.edu and https://www.ombudsassociation.org/what-is-an-organizational-ombuds.