The Concordia University Board of Governers is striking an Appraisal Committee on September 28th, to carry out their obligation of conducting regular reviews of the operations of the university’s Ombuds Office.
The purpose of the Ombuds Office is stated as being to “provide an impartial and confidential service to members of the University who have been unable to resolve their concerns about the application of any policy, rule or procedure.” With the university’s policies, rules and procedures around sexual assault, harassment, and domestic violence being so inaccessible, the Ombuds office should function as a kind of lightning rod for concerns around these issues. If you’re a member of the Concordia community and you’ve dealt with the Ombuds office in this – or any – capacity, you’re welcome to submit comments (which will be kept completely confidential) to the appraisal committee care of Linda Hubert, by September 30th.
We’re interested to see the results of this review – we know how the Ombuds office works in theory, but in our experiences, it’s often an entirely different thing in practice. Many students find themselves alienated by the process of even trying to navigate university rules, policies and procedures, and the Ombuds office often does not seem to even make a dent in this problem. Do students find the Ombuds office itself accessible? Respectful of their needs? Accountable? These are questions we’re encouraging the Appraisal Committee to consider in their assessment. If the answer to even one of these questions is no, then there’s a significant breakdown in the functioning of the office that needs to be addressed.